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Monday, September 10, 2007

cover of Touch Not the Cat

Bryony is a young woman from an old British family, the Ashleys, and she returns to her family home under strange circumstances, after her father dies in a suspicious hit and run. There are plenty of legends and colorful stories about the Ashley family history, but one story-- that some family members have a "gift," some kind of psychic ability-- turns out to be true, because Bryony has had a special connection with one of her cousins since she was a child, and now thinks of him as her psychic lover. The only problem is, she isn't quite sure which cousin it is; none of them quite seem to fit. Of course, there turns out to be a cousin she didn't know about, and another interesting complication to the Ashley family legends. It's been long enough since I read this book that I didn't remember right away who Bryony's love was, which made reading it more fun.

As in most Mary Stewart novels, there's plenty of intrigue and mystery. Bryony's cousins (twins who were always partners in crime as children) have started selling off heirlooms from the estate (which they will inherit) because they have a "cash flow problem," in the process corrupting the young American girl whose family is renting the estate (and who is in love with one of the twins). There's also a cryptic message from her father that she can't quite make out, and interesting connections and revelations about their family history, the family crest and motto (which is where the title comes from), drawn and combined from various sources over history. And then, near the end of the book, after the trauma of a flood and near death, the discovery of a ancient Roman mosaic (of a cat, of course) that might be enough to save the family home.

The cover image is from my copy-- an old paperback I bought somewhere with a strange design, but it plays with the idea of the family crest and the maze and the cat images that run through the book.

Title:Touch not the Cat
Author:Mary Stewart
Date published:1976
Genre:Mystery / romance
Number of pages:302
Notes:repeat reading


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