Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage - Mary Stewart I never read this Mary Stewart book -- probably because I read most of her books when I was in grade school or middle school, and this book came out long after that time in my life. (*ahem!*)Regardless, it's a light, easy tale set in 1947 England about Kathy/Kate, her grandmother, her religious holier-than-thou Aunt Betsy, her mother the Fallen Woman, and Rose Cottage where they all lived. Kathy doesn't know who her father is -- her mother became pregnant at 16, and the father was never named. Kathy and her grandparents lived in harmony in Rose Cottage until her beloved grandpa died; then Aunt Betsy came to live with them, and her religious attitude and samplers such as "The Wages of Sin is Death" drove Kathy's mother, Lilia, out of the house. Lilia was supposed to have run away with the local gipsy/gypsy band who camped nearby. When Kathy was 7 or 8, they learned that her mother and her gypsy lover, Jamie, were killed in a bus crash in Ireland. Now, years later and after WWII, Kathy's grandmother learns that the family of the Big House (where her grandmother worked as a cook and her mother as a house-maid) are turning the place into a hotel. If her grandmother, now living in Scotland, doesn't wish to keep Rose Cottage, the Family will likely renovate it into a cottage-for-rent. So Kathy's grandma asks her to go to Rose Cottage and bring back some of her things that she left behind -- including items from a hidey-hole that no one, not even Aunt Betsy, knew about. But when Kathy gets to Rose Cottage, someone has already found and emptied the hidey-hole safe. And there's been mysterious digging in the backyard. As Kathy tries to solve the mystery, the Three Witches down the lane report having seen strange lights, and the "medium" of the bunch claims to have seen Kathy's mother, Lilia, with her gypsy lover in person at the cemetery just a few nights before. Kathy tries to uncover the truth and banish the ghosts of her past, with the help of a childhood friend, Davy. And what they discover is that the past really does have ghosts... ------------------I enjoyed the book -- it was light reading. But as I said, not much mystery or suspense. I imagine that the whole idea of ghosts was supposed to be much more than it is nowadays. The intrigue was really whether or not Lilia was alive, who is Kathy's father, and which of the residents and old friends might have removed the contents of the old safe -- and why they'd want such things. Having just finished a couple of Mary Stewart books, though, I stumbled across an interesting pattern: Ms. Stewart's heroes weren't the typical hero for the time. They weren't the dashing, handsome, rich, prince-on-the-horse. Rather, they were the Everyman -- the hard working, easy to overlook, good-natured, solid guys. And my heart warmed at that discovery. It's easy to make the obvious guy or the tortured guy the hero; it's much more difficult to make the solid guy that most girls overlook and undervalue the true hero... the romantic interest.Not quite a classic... not quite Mary Stewart's best, but a good read.