REVIEW: The Wind Off the Small Isles and The Lost One by Mary Stewart
The Wind Off the Small Isles is beloved author Mary Stewart’s long-lost novella, now available in digital and perfect for fans of Anya Seton, Daphne du Maurier and Santa Montefiore.
1879. Lanzarote. A wealthy young woman elopes with an impoverished fisherman, leaving her family distraught.
1968. Perdita West, secretary to a famous author, visits Lanzarote on a research trip and begins to fall in love with the unusual, beautiful little island. When, while snorkelling, a landslide traps Perdita in an underwater cave, her efforts to save herself will reveal what happened to the ill-fated couple who fell in love at this very spot almost a century ago . . .
This edition also includes the recently rediscovered short story ‘The Lost One’, first published in Woman’s Journal in 1960, and set against the backdrop of unfenced country and dark winding valleys at night.
The Wind Off the Small Isles
This is a lovely story which is short, sweet and to the point. It has evocative descriptions of places and people and like most Mary Stewart books makes me feel as if I’m right there. Even with just thumbnail sketches – because they’re Mary Stewart sketches, I know Perdita, Mike and the others.
Perdita’s boss, Mrs Gresham, mentions love at first sight and it’s easily clear that this is what has happened here though not a word is said by either of the characters nor need be it’s so perfectly shown. Later on there are a few “darlings” that slip out in conversation but by then, everyone knows.
The heroine is in danger but here it’s from nature instead of a villain yet her hero arrives to help her finish saving the day because she’s a Stewart heroine and they tend to be a little self-saving. I dearly would have loved for this to be a full length book but as it is, it’s wonderful.
The Lost One
Now, this one really is a short story and, alas, not a romance at all but a creepy, very atmospheric tale. Perdita – and I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the same Perdita as in “The Wind Off the Small Isles as her last name is never mentioned here – and her mother are off for a holiday. Mother is paying and it doesn’t do to argue with Mother as she’ll get her way in the end so the two of them head off in the car. After straitening the map and discovering where they really are, car trouble lands them in a whole lot more trouble. It will take a very unlikely savior with some assistants all over the road, to save Perdita from the villain of the story. Her mother is hilarious and gobsmacks all the locals in the end.
This is a story where the suspense builds and then builds past even the initial stage until I was holding my breath and shaking along with Perdita and Mother but intrepid English women that they are, they’re not going to let this villain get the best of them or their savior. Yes, I wish this one was longer too.