Towards the end of the school’s long summer break, I sped through the thrilling mystery Thunder on the Right by one of my favourite authors Mary Stewart, which was published in 1958. It was only back in January that I read her debut novel Madam, Will You Talk? and I was already primed for another sun-drenched adventure from this wonderful author.
And I wasn’t to be disappointed as Stewart expertly swept me off to the picturesque, secluded Valley of the Storms in the French Pyrenees. We travel with Jennifer Silver, a budding artist and daughter of academics, who is taking her first independent trip, away from her cosseted Oxford life, to the beautiful French town of Gavarnie. Where she is to meet with her half-French cousin Gillian Lamartine, who, after being left a young widow by the war, is about to enter the convent there.
However after checking into her hotel and travelling up to the isolated Convent of Notre-Dame-des-Orages, high in the mountains above, Jennifer is met with the shocking news that her beloved cousin Gillian died in a dreadful car accident. Or did she? Reeling, Jennifer has her suspicions peaked by an unhelpful interview with the convent’s bursar Doña Francesca, a cold woman in silken robes and ostentatious jewellery.
Although other inhabitants of the convent are more friendly, they just think her fears come from the blow of her loss and they have little extra details to give her, because Doña Francesca nursed Gillian alone, except for the help of an orphan girl. What Jennifer is able to glean just doesn’t add up – Lies and mystery seem to abound in this strange, remote and frightening place, but seeking the truth leads Jennifer further into danger.
Blessedly, Jennifer is not alone, as her friend Stephen Masefield, a former student of her fathers, travels to Gavarnie to reconnect with her, after her parents thought him an unsuitable match for their daughter and forced them apart. On discovering what has happened he puts his love interest on hold to help her discover what has happened. I liked them both and their personalities compliment each other well, as they work together to delve deeper into this mystery of death, greed, avarice and smuggling.
All in all, I thought Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart was another wonderful escape, while I thought it started off slower than other suspenses of hers, I ended up stayed up past my bedtime one Sunday night to reach the dramatic climax! As always I can’t wait to read more by this fabulous author and here’s hoping I don’t wait so long next time! Especially as I have plenty of Stewart options awaiting me on my Kindle. Great read
(I also read this as part of my 10 Books of Summer reading)
Have you read this? Or anything else by the brilliant Mary Stewart? What should I read next? Please let me know in the comments below.