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Touch Not the Cat

March 9, 2010

Have you ever done this? Opened a favorite book only to discover that you’ve grafted some of it into your writing and into your voice. I try to avoid doing that very thing as if it would give me the plague itself.
Yet yesterday I began reading for the fifth time Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart. A hardback romance novel written in 1968 which I borrowed permanently from my mother. I discovered it in the late ’70’s; and every few years I unearth it again.
Mary Stewart was one of my literary heroes. She wrote the mystical and romantic Pendragon Trilogy that began with The Crystal Cave. She also wrote gothic romances, but those were too dense.
I had the most wonderful surprise when I cracked the cover this time around. This short novel is written in first person. And I’m working on a manuscript in first person. Her first person is a young, intelligent woman with a special gift. That’s where the similarities in our stories end.
My heroine is a youngish, sort of intelligent woman with a special gift. She’s in her thirties, hails from the Deep South with an accent to match, and is gifted in the ways of feeding and nursing assorted animals back to health.
The late Ms. Stewart’s story has, what we now call, paranormal elements. Her heroine is gifted with thought transference. Only one person can receive her thoughts, and only she can receive his. Yes, faithful reader, he is her lover. Of course, she doesn’t know the identity of her paranormal lover. Yet she’s ready to find out which of her two identical cousins is actually her lover in his heart and mind.
(Here I use the word ‘lover’ because Stewart uses it. Actually, this is a very sweet story without torrid love scenes, so no intimate relations of any kind, hot, warm, or mild, take place.)
You absolutely must read this simply marvelous story. There’s love, mystery, murder, the paranormal…and the wondrous storytelling of Mary Stewart.
I’m not Mary Stewart; but I feel her approval as I continue on with my own special heroine. And a nod as I write it in first person–in a voice, influenced by the stories I love, but uniquely my own.
Bon appetit!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Regina Richards permalink
    March 11, 2010 11:20 pm

    You’ve convinced me, Gina. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Touch Not the Cat. I’m thinking I may have read Stewart’s gothics already, since I think I’d read every gothic in my county library at least once by the time I was 15. Love gothics.

    • March 12, 2010 4:00 am

      I’m always a little shy about recommending books…I don’t want to over sell them. 🙂

      I was reading the story tonight and thinking that it’s almost the anti-gothic. In fact, the heroine’s thoughts briefly poke fun at historical gothic romances. Yet it is set in the English countryside, there is a paranormal element, there is a murder, and there is a thwarted romance–only it’s contemporary.


      • March 14, 2010 4:19 pm

        Not sure if Touch Not the Cat is a gothic, but there are plenty of wonderful contemporary gothics. I’m planning a run to the bookstore soon. If I can get my hands on a copy, I’ll let you know if it has the atmosphere to be called gothic, imo – which may not be worth a nickle, but since I have one (an opinion) I like to bring it out and sashay around with it occassionally. 😉

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