THE BOOK REPORT CLASSICS - The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart © 1961: IN A NUT SHELL!


I do a lot of writing and drawing of late and find reading has been put on the back burner, but found some time, usually in bed late at night, recently to read The Ivy Tree and Madam, Can You Talk? both my favorites, and both by legendary Novelist, Mary Stewart.

Even by today’s standard, these books are page turners and they don’t need graphic sex to do it.
The Ivy Tree takes place in a beautiful English countryside setting which is as much a character in this story as the lovely Mary Grey. She has just arrived from Canada, a young working woman with an uncertain future, who begins a dangerous adventure.
The spitting image of the missing heiress Annabel Winslow, Mary is about to be offered the chance to replace Annabel, who eight years earlier just walked away from a grand fortune.
Connor Winslow is the son of a nephew to Annabel’s grandfather, Mathew Winslow and Con manages the vast estate for the older man and is his only living male relative. Annabel is the oldest of Mathew’s two granddaughters.
On her arrival in England Mary meets an angry man who takes her for his long ago runaway cousin and heir to the fortune that, Con, himself thinks should now be his. He wants to know what she has come back for. She convinces the angry man that she is not his cousin, only to have him make her ‘an offer she had trouble refusing,’ to walk into Mathew Winslow’s life and take Annabel’s rightful place!

Does Mary really looks so much like Annabel Winslow that she can fool the grandfather the real Annabel loved? What of the missing heiress who is now taken for dead? Is she die as her distant cousin, Connor Winslow hopes or will she come back? How does Mary play Annabel when the true heiress is the own one who knows her own secrets? Could Mary be the ex-lover to Adam Forrest, a romance even Con did not know about? So many questions in such a great adventure!
When we first see the Ivy Tree, Mary is about to walk past it into a new life. The secret of the Ivy Tree could easily be her undoing, for neither Con nor his sister knew of its significance. The Ivy Tree’s description remains you that Mary is about to embark on what could very well be a dangerous enterprise.

‘…the wall had been clothed in ivy, and the ivy had reached for the tree, crept up it, engulfed it, till now trunk was one towering mass of the dark gleaming leaves, and only the tree’s upper branches managed to thrust the young gold leaves of early summer through the strangling curtain. Eventually the ivy would kill it…’
When Mary meets Adam Forrest he will not be persuaded she is not Annabel. Does she tell him the truth or continue the lie. She decides the best way is to tell him what she up to and why. Adam finds the story she tells not one he likes. Adam is finally convinced by Mary that she is not Annabel and tells her he will give her a short time to get away before he tells the truth about her.
With her masterful way with similes, the author tells us how Mary feels when Adam walks away:
‘…In the silence after he had gone, the tap dripped, a small, maddening sound, like a reiterated note on a  harpsichord, a little out of tune.
I found I was leaning against the chilly metal of the cooler. I felt cold, with a sweating, empty slackness, like someone who has just vomited…’
Under the circumstances, Mary is overwhelmed and is frighten and fears what she has gotten herself into. But all she has to do is to pull it off to get the fortune, even though, if Annabel is dead, it all rightfully belongs to Annabel’s young cousin, Julie.
Ms. Stewart is one of the founders of the modern romance suspense genre’. Her descriptive story settings such as ancient Greece and Rome placing you there inside her tales of mystery and romance.
At this date, September 2010, Ms. Stewart lives in England and is 94 years old. In my opinion she is one of the best authors of out times. I thank her for her marvelous works and I wish her well.

Out of Print! This is the only suspense novel by Mary Stewart that I haven't read.
Not able to find this IN GOOD CONDITION with out paying an arm and a leg for it!


  1. I totally agree JD! "Ivy Tree" is a superb classic - beautifully written!

  2. Hi Paula,
    Glad you like hearing about the Ivy Tree. I always seem to find new aspects to the story every time I read it!


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