Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Nine Coaches Waiting

Linda Martin leaps at the chance to return to her beloved France as governess to heir to an estate. She arrives to find the leader of the household has a dark side, the heir is afraid of him and that the son of the household is all too appealing. When dangerous events occur she might be all that stands between the heir and death…

Nine Coaches Waiting reads like a Gothic Romance in a more recent time. There is the remote house, frightening leader of the house -he should not be called master for the household truly belongs to the heir- and sinister undercurrents which suggest dangerous events are going to occur. The plot makes the reader wonder who can be trusted and if Linda will be able to save the heir and herself from ruin. Linda’s relationship with the beguiling Raoul adds romance into the mix and further keeps the reader turning the pages. Stewart’s way with words enhances suspense, or romance, while making the reader also want to savor some of her phrases. For instance,

If any other creature moved in the forest that night, we never saw it. The only eyes that glittered at us were the stars, and the million drops of stardew that shivered on the fallen boughs. The breeze was failing, and in its pauses the breaking of the dead stuff under our feet sounded like thunder. I found myself, absurdly, with a quick over-the-shoulder glance at Leon de Valmy’s remote little light, trying to tread more softly, and eying in some dread the gaunt black shadows that the moon flung streaming behind us down the open ride (234).

Nine Coaches is worth reading for its foreboding but also beautiful atmosphere, Stewart’s skill with language and suspenseful plot with a dash of romance.

Want more reads like Nine Coaches Waiting?

Linda makes allusions to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre also features a governess drawn into a household with secrets. Linda’s first meeting with Raoul reads like Jane’s first meeting with Rochester: put a Cadillac in instead of a horse and it’s very similar. Like Linda, Jane encounters secrets, struggles with inter-class romance and risks her happiness for what is right.

Susan Howatch’s The Shrouded Walls also features a heroine who must discover if someone she shares a home with could be a murderer. In this case her new husband…

Phillis A. Whitney’s Window on the Square also features a governess who must discover if there is a threat against the child she has been brought in to care for while figuring out who she can trust…


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