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The Moonspinners (2003)

The Moonspinners (2003)
3.99 of 5 Votes: 1
0060502959 (ISBN13: 9780060502959)
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The Moonspinners (2003)
The Moonspinners (2003)

About book: Originally posted here.I've always wanted to go to Greece. It seems like such a lovely place, rich in culture and I would love to try authentic Greek food. I have no idea when I'll be able to go though so I have to content myself with reading books with Greek settings. The Moonspinners is set in Crete and is the second Mary Stewart romantic suspense novel that I've read. I'm slowly enjoying going through her entire backlist.I love that Mary Stewart's books have different settings. I may not be able to afford a trip to Crete, but I can afford to read a book about it. The Moonspinners has such an atmospheric setting and it was one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading it. I liked seeing Crete through Nicola's eyes because even if she's lived and worked in Athens for a year, she's still a foreigner. The little town she stayed in is a quaint and quiet little place, on the brink of being discovered by tourists. She described Greeks as warm and welcoming, fascinated by newcomers and eager to please. The descriptions reminded me a bit of the Philippines - beautiful beaches, pleasant weather and people known for their hospitality. It sounds like a tourist's dream place, right? It would have been if Nicola didn't land right smack in the middle of a mystery. Being a nice person, she volunteers to help out even if those involved don't want to endanger her.I'm not a big fan of suspense or mystery novels but there's something about Mary Stewart's writing that draws me in. I'm never sure of the characters in the novel. I feel like I'm always nervous and worried for her main character, some of her scenes can really make my heart pound. And I'm never sure of the other characters in the novel - who is at fault, who is innocent and if they are hiding anything. I also like how Mary Stewart blends romance and suspense in her novels. Although I did feel like the romance in The Moonspinners was underdeveloped. I would have liked more scenes and conversations between Nicola and her man, I felt like they didn't have enough time together. I liked the romance much more in Nine Coaches Waiting. Still, The Moonspinners is an oldie but goodie, I believe all of Mary Stewart's novels are like that. I can't wait to read the other Mary Stewart novels set in Greece: My Brother Michael and This Rough Magic. I have a feeling I'd enjoy reading those as well. Also, I've heard that there's an old Disney movie based on The Moonspinners, I need to find a copy of that too.

As a light read with suspenseful tension throughout, The Moonspinners definitely works. Like another Mary Stewart novel, The Gabriel Hounds, it's also perfect for armchair travelling - Stewart has a way of writing the very atmosphere of exotic locales into her stories in the most wonderfully vivid way. Here, the countryside of Crete comes alive with flower-covered fields on the mountain side, clear waters of the sea, night fishing and a tiny and picturesque village - which makes the horrible human darkness lurking below the scenic beauty all that much more frightening. The tension holds from the very point our heroine, Nicola Ferris, stumbles upon Mark Langley, a badly wounded young Englishman hiding in the mountains from his would-be murderers. Even though it's almost immediately apparent who the villains must be, given the limited number of characters we're introduced to (and Nicola herself figures it out just as quickly), it's the feeling that you never know quite for sure what exactly they did and how they did it that keeps the suspense going. It's too bad that, like The Gabriel Hounds, the tension here mounts to feverish heights by the climax but unfortunately fizzles out once the final action takes place in a rush of scattered and confusing details and ends with a rather flat wrap-up regarding the villains. All the strength lies in the lead-up - if you like strong finishes where villains are denounced and dealt with and everything satisfyingly wrapped up, you won't get it here.Nicola is just the type of heroine that I like in these novels - she's an independent and intelligent young woman who has the ability to keep her head (at least on the exterior) even in the most unsettling occasions and is certainly no shrinking violet. Her tendency to throw herself entirely into potentially dangerous situations is what gets her involved in Mark's predicament in the first place, but she also has the forethought to get herself out of most of those scrapes. Mark is much harder to like - domineering and somewhat chauvinistic, which is again not surprising considering when this was written - and the real downside is that even the (view spoiler)[indomitable Nicola meets her match in Mark and gets quite girlish about having someone who'll "take care of everything." She seemed actually to enjoy Mark's habit of telling her what to do. (hide spoiler)]
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Bought for a bit of silly light reading. It took me dreadfully long to get round to it, despite that, because I had such a long period where I didn't feel like reading at all. I think it's well-broken now, though: I ate up The Moonspinners in less than a day. It's a ridiculous story, really: I think I said of one of Mary Stewart's other books, Touch Not the Cat, or maybe The Gabriel Hounds, or both, that it's really The Famous Five for adults, with a dash of romance and some exotic scenery. Since I knew that, that's what I read it for, though, and so I enjoyed it quite a bit. It does get genuinely exciting, as long as you can buy into it, and while the mystery is solved fairly easily, the tension holds.
Jill Hill
I don't know if my review of this book would be the same if I was just reading it for the first time. This is one of my favorites from when I was younger, so I don't know if that's skewed my perception of it. It does have a few slow parts and it may be a bit old-fashioned, but it's just a fun read. I think I originally read it after seeing the Disney movie version with Hayley Mills that was made in the 60s. I generally liked Hayley Mills movies as a kid and I liked this movie okay, but frankly they changed a lot of the plot and Hayley just wasn't cute enough for the lead actor, who I had a huge crush on. The movie had a bit more action than the book, but I like the heroine better in the book. (Sorry, am I reviewing the book or the movie? I digress.)
The ending…! What an ending! For those of you who have see the movie, I think it should be said that they are Completely Different. Other than Mark and Nicola having the same personalities in the movie as in the book, everything else is off. I still like them both though, (movie verses book) and the tale of The Moonspinners is one of my favorite parts in the book, that and the stunning scenery. That's what this book abounds in, descriptions. Eloquent, sparkling descriptions. "I came near to a corner and saw it. Here the wall of gorge was broken, as a small stream came in from above. It fell in an arrowy rush right across the path, where it swirled round the single steppingstone, to tumble once again, headlong, towards the river. I didn't cross it. I left the path, and clambered, not without difficulty, up the boulders that edged the tributary stream, towards the sunlight of open ground at the edge of the ravine.If a few minutes I had found what I was looking for. I climbed a tumble of white stones where poppies grew, and came out on a small, stony alp, a level field of asphodel, all but surrounded by towering rocks. Sounthwards, it was open, with a dizzying view down towards the now distant sea." page 20 of the omnibus.That is how it starts, peaceful, balmy, tropically beautiful and perfect. Till all that changes and Nicola is on the run for not just her life, but the lives of Mark, Lambis and Colin, who for all they know could already be past saving. I enjoyed this book a lot, more than Airs above the Ground and just as much as The Ivy Tree. Wildfire at Midnight and Nine Coaches Waiting are still my favorites, but this is a good comfort read. My only complaint is that the suspense didn't suspend me in fear; cozy it was. The middle lags a little, I felt that not much happened, at least, it didn't progress. But when all's said and done, I liked it, I enjoied it and I would read it again. G rating as for once there wasn't as much smoking or drinking or swearing either.
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