Retro Friday: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

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.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Nicola Ferris, on leave from her job as a secretary in Athens, has been looking forward to a quiet week’s holiday in Crete, enjoying the wild flowers and the company of her cousin Frances.

But before she even reaches her destination Nicola stumbles on evidence of a murderous crime involving a young Englishman and a group of people tied together by blood and the bonds of greed. For the first time in her life Nicola meets a man and a situation she cannot deal with…

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.

Other reviews:
At Home With A Good Book and the Cat
Kate’s Bookcase

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16 thoughts on “Retro Friday: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

  1. I love that this one is set in Greece! Also, I think this might be one of my favorites of the gorgeous cover set. I love everything about it!

    I don’t own this one (yet), but I’ll definitely get to it one of these days πŸ™‚

    • Oh Allison, you will love seeing Crete through Nicola’s eyes. I hope you can find a copy of this soon, I’d like to know what you think of the book. πŸ™‚ I love the color of the cover, it’s such a refreshing shade of green.

  2. I’ve never seen the movie….but the picture the book made in my mind were so vividly, beautifully clear that I don’t think I need to! I think the setting of this one is the reason it is my favorite…all the flowers, and the beautiful ocean…. (sigh. I want to go to Crete!)

    Which one is up next, Chachic?

    • Yes, exactly. The descriptions were so vivid in this book, that’s one of the main reasons why I enjoyed reading it even though the romance didn’t work for me. I loved all the descriptions of the flowers too.

      Maybe My Brother Michael since I still don’t have a copy of This Rough Magic. πŸ™‚

  3. Oh, I can’t wait to read this (and Nine Coaches Waiting). I have a stack of MS books that I need to try very soon–I cannot call myself a lover of gothic novels and never read her! I vaguely remember seeing the Hayley Mills movie, but it won’t spoil my reading of this at all. Nicely reviewed, Chachic!

    • Wendy, have you read any of Mary Stewart’s books? I think you’d really like them if you’re a fan of gothic novels, particularly Nine Coaches Waiting. Yes, it looks like the movie is very different from the book anyway so you don’t have to worry about mixing them up.

  4. I remember when Angie reviewed Moonspinners and I desperately wanted to read it, but never did. AND NOW YOU HAVE REVIEWED IT and I desperately want to read it. Perhaps this will be the time the hovering finger actually clicks ORDER.

    And yeah, I’m not a huge suspense/mystery person, but if the writing is good and my friends recommend it, I will try it out.

    • I think it was My Brother Michael that Angie reviewed? But it was Angie who introduced me to Mary Stewart. πŸ™‚ You have to try reading one of her books, April. I have a feeling you’ll like them. Go and click ORDER. You know you want to.

      Same here, not a big fan of the genre but I’m willing to try books if they come highly recommended by those I trust – like Deanna Raybourn and Mary Stewart.

  5. There’s a film? I wonder if I’ve seen it. Nice review – it’s good to know she can do Crete just as well as France. Not sure when I’ll get to this one though. I’m going to read Angie’s fav MS novels first. πŸ™‚

    • Let’s see, Angie’s tier one Mary Stewart favorites are Nine Coaches Waiting, Madam Will You Talk and This Rough Magic, right? So you’re planning to read those first? πŸ™‚ I might read My Brother Michael (Greece again!) next. And I’m really tempted to grab a copy of This Rough Magic. Maybe next month since I just ordered books from Book Depository.

      • Lol, I think so. Though I may read My Brother Michael before some of those. It seems like she liked that one as well? Though maybe it was only second tier. πŸ˜‰

      • Yeah, My Brother Michael is tier two, together with The Moonspinners and The Ivy Tree, I think. Yay, I’m glad we’re both going to read more Mary Stewart books in the near future. Might even start on one of her novels after I finish what I’m currently reading.

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