I'm so glad that Anbolyn spearheaded Mary Stewart Reading Week this week because it prompted me to read The Moonspinners, which in turn finally allowed me to fully appreciate the appeal of Stewart's writing. I've read two other novels by Stewart and thought they were okay, but wasn't enamored with them. I kept getting hung up on some dialogue that sounded a bit dated and on extensive descriptions of landscapes, which aren't my cup of tea. (Although the latter is 100% my problem, and not Stewart's. If you are into reading descriptions of landscapes, she writes lovely ones.) Something clicked with The Moonspinners, though, and I found myself quickly engrossed and fully entertained by it.
The heroine of The Moonspinners is Nicola Ferris. In what seems to be true Stewart fashion, she's a plucky, parent-less girl in her early twenties who doesn't hesitate to get caught up in danger. Nicola is also very independent with a worldly, urbane streak, which keeps all of that pluck from becoming twee. She and her older cousin, Frances, go on holiday in a rural, sleepy Greek seaside town. While exploring the surrounding mountains, Nicola stumbles upon Mark and Lambis, a young English tourist and his Greek guide, who are holed up in an abandoned shepherd's hut while Mark recovers from a gunshot wound he received after accidentally stumbling upon a murder in progress. Nicola is quickly swept up into the mystery and a series of adventures ensues, with many twists and turns that I won't spoil by trying to describe.
With its exotic Greek setting and its mid-century time period, I could easily imagine The Moonspinners as a classic film, with Nicola played by Audrey Hepburn in a Roman Holiday-esque dress. The novel's face paced action seems like exactly the stuff of movies. There are a lot of "only in fiction" elements to it, not least of which is the amount of adventure and trouble that the characters are able to squeeze into just two days' time! But that just added to the charm of it for me and made for a truly fun reading experience.