Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart was first published in 1997.
The setting is Argyll in Scotland and Sunderland, County Durham in the north-east of England. Kate Herrick is a young widow, having lost her husband who had been in the RAF during World War 2 – one of ‘the few’. Unexpectedly she has been left fairly well-off by him, but she’s working in a plant nursery in County Durham, just for something to do really, but she loves the work.
However Kate’s Granny has moved north to Scotland and has decided to stay there for good, she has asked Kate to clear up Rose Cottage which is the house that Granny had lived in. The house is on the Brandon estate where Granny had been a cook for years, and as Kate had lost both her parents as a child she had lived there with her Granny. Kate has instructions as to which furniture and household goods should be packed for Scotland, but she doesn’t expect it will take her long.
Kate’s a wee bit worried about going back to what had been her childhood home as not everyone had been friendly as she was growing up there, since her mother had been unmarried and her father a mystery. Kate had had to put up with some nastiness from strait-laced people, but she’s surprised by how welcome she has been made to feel on her return – time has changed things it seems.
This is an entertaining light read, not in the same league as the author’s earlier books but still with an element of romance, mystery and suspense in it, which she was so well known for. It was the last book that Mary Stewart had published and she was over 80 by then, she was 98 when she died.
I found it to be a bit of a strange experience reading this one as there were so many elements in it which echoed the experiences of a friend of mine from Sunderland who splits her time between Sunderland and Scotland – and she even has a pet tortoise just as one of the characters in the book has!
Although Mary Stewart is generally seen as being a Scottish author, she was actually born in the north-east of England, but moved to Scotland when she married a Scottish soldier and settled down in Edinburgh with him. I imagine she enjoyed her imaginary jaunt back in time to her roots geographical via writing this book.