The Wind Off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart

The Wind Off the Small Isles cover

The Wind off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart was first published in 1968. The setting is Lanzarote on the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa, and 23 year old Perdita is there with her employer Cora Gresham who is a famous English novelist. Perdita is her secretary and as Cora freely admits she half writes the books too. They’re busy seeking out settings for the books, but when Perdita drives down a country track which Cora wants to explore it leads to a house which Cora falls in love with immediately.

There are workmen outside the house and Perdita is sent to enquire about the owner as Cora wants to buy the place, but it turns out that Cora already knows the owner James Blair and he’s another English author – the house is definitely not for sale. Michael is working for James and it’s obvious that he and Perdita are interested in each other, and so begins a suspenseful adventure accompanied by the atmospheric descriptions that Mary Stewart was so skilled at.

This is a lovely little novella at just 96 pages, my copy has the original dust jacket and the beginning of each chapter has a small illustration by Laurence Irving. Unfortunately it seems to be quite expensive online but I was lucky to find a perfect copy for all of £3 in a secondhand book shop.

6 thoughts on “The Wind Off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart

  1. I like all Mary Stewart but reading this I was mostly annoyed it was so short!

    My favorite is Madam, Will You Talk, and I am excited about bringing it with me to Provence if my trip comes off in September. I know it practically by heart but found an old paperback that can be easily carried along.

    • Constance,

      Yes it is strangely short, but it’s a lovely wee book. I think my favourite is Nine Coaches Waiting. I like them all really including her Merlin books, I so wish I had written to Mary Stewart back in the 1970s when I first read those ones as I wanted to ask her about the mention of Dumbarton Castle, but I never did pluck up courage to do it for some daft reason.

  2. Weird coincidence, Katrina. I’d never heard of Lanzarote until last night when Jack and a friend were talking about it.

    • Joan,
      That is weird. Lanzarote is a very popular holiday destination with people in the UK, but it’s probably too touristy now for my liking – and hot and far away for my liking!

  3. This is one of the few Mary Stewart books I haven’t read yet. I’m glad you enjoyed it and it’s good to know that she could create suspense and atmosphere in novella form as well as in her longer novels.

    • Helen,

      It seems strange that she didn’t work it up into a normal sized novel but it’s definitely worth reading, and I’ve seen two reasonably priced copies of it in charity shops recently so it isn’t too difficult to find.

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