cover image Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage

Mary Stewart. William Morrow & Company, $24 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15584-1

In an old-fashioned romantic tale, veteran novelist Stewart (My Brother Michael, etc.) paints a nostalgic portrait of a dying way of life in rural post-WWII Britain. Young Kate Herrick, a newly wealthy war widow, is sent by her grandmother to retrieve some furniture and family heirlooms from Todhall, where the older woman was cook to the titled Brandon family. Kate, or Kathy (as everyone in Todhall village calls her), was born out of wedlock and raised by her grandmother after her mother ""ran away with the gypsies."" Kathy never knew who her father was--it may have been a gypsy or even Sir Brandon. The mystery may be untangled by papers left in the safe her grandmother has instructed her to empty; when Kathy manages to crack the safe, however, with the aid of good-looking young carpenter Davey Pascoe, it's empty. Then the local mystic claims to have seen Kathy's mother and a gypsy in the cemetery standing over her grandfather's grave. The harassing question of Kathy's parentage, the plundered safe, her class status (Kathy Welland or Kate Herrick? London widow or Todhall cottager?) and her perhaps forever-broken heart, are all resolved in one long night of tea and buttered toast, during which half the village seems to crowd into the tiny cottage kitchen. Stewart writes a bit like the old milk pony, Rosy, who knows her route by heart. (Sept.)