Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (1958)

Linda Martin was back in Paris after an absence of nine years. With an English father and a French mother, she had grown up in France during the Second World War. When she was fourteen both of her parents were killed in a plane crash and she was sent to an orphanage in England where she remained for seven years. When she was offered a position in France as governess to nine year old Philippe, Comte de Valmy, she jumped at the opportunity to go back to the country she loved.

‘Those sweet, those stinging memories…things I had never before noticed, never missed, until now I saw them unchanged, part and parcel of that life that stopped nine years ago…I was back in France; that much of the dream of the past nine years had come true. However prosaic or dreary my new job might be, at least I had come back to the country I had persisted in regarding as my home.’

Arriving at the Château Valmy in Savoy, Linda found that her young charge was a reserved, lonely child, heir to a large estate kept in trust by his uncle after the boy’s parents died. It didn’t take Linda long to warm to the young boy and to discern that he was afraid of his uncle. His uncle had no time for his nephew and was cold and harsh towards him.
A shooting which narrowly missed Philippe, another near fatal ‘accident,’ and an unlikely romance, sets the scene for adventure, danger and uncertainty as Linda commits herself to take care of Philippe while trying to work out who the potential murderer might be.

This is the second book that I’ve read by Mary Stewart (the other being, Madam, Will You Talk?) and it was every bit as good as the first. It took a little longer for the story in Nine Coaches Waiting to develop, but it was also longer than the first.
There were some similarities between the two – a vulnerable but strong young woman, a lonely child who needed protection, the French setting, and a romance.

‘An owl called below me, down in the woods; called again. Its muted melancholy found too ready an echo in me. I felt tired and depressed. Too much had happened today; and the pleasant things…had somehow faded back out of mind and left me with this queerly flattened feeling.
I know what it was, of course. I’d lived with loneliness a long time. That was something which was always there…one learns to keep it at bay…’

Again, Mary Stewart’s writing is just lovely and each chapter is introduced by a literary quotation, e.g.

‘I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so.

John Donne: The Triple Fool.’

And this on the ability of poetry to educate the mind:

‘The cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead landyes, that was it. That was it. Not for the first time I was sharply grateful to Daddy for making poetry a habit with me. The best words in the best order…one always got the same shock of recognition and delight when someone’s words swam up to meet a thought or name a picture. Daddy had been right. Poetry was awfully good material to think with.’

There are some allusions to Cinderella and Jane Eyre intermingled in the story which were nicely done, as were the revelations of what underpinned the actions or thoughts of various characters.

‘Wrapped up in my loneliness and danger I hadn’t even seen that his need was the same as my own. He and I had hoed the same row, and he for a more bitter harvest.’

A great book to curl up with with a cup of tea and no interruptions, if possible, because Mary Stewart’s books are hard to put down – at least the two I’ve read so far have been.

Linking to Books You Loved

12 thoughts on “Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (1958)

  1. Good morning! Would you mind putting in the titles instead of just a link that says “this one”? My computer is old and refuses to go to your website. I don’t know why… but I can read your blog posts in my email. Yay!

    I have been faithfully reading your blog posts for years and have always enjoyed any books that I pick up based on your recommendation. I read Enchanted April and loved it so very much that I bought copies for all the teachers in my co-op. The paper back was only $5 new at the time. Much better than a starbucks gift card. =)

    I also love that you referred to The Christians Secret to a Happy Life. I completely love that book, too, but most of my friends haven’t heard of it much less read it.

    Very blessed by you, Jennifer ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jennifer, well this was a very encouraging comment to find here today! I changed my emails so that they send out the whole post as a friend pointed out that her internet isn’t great but she gets emails with no trouble. I never thought about links – I was being lazy and didn’t type out the title. Fixed now & I’ll try to remember not to do it again. 🙂
      The Christians Secret to a Happy Life is a breath of fresh air – I’d forgotten how readable & simple it is.
      Thanks again for your kind words. It’s always a pleasure to hear from my readers!


    • Hello Cleo! We found a few of her books at the library, including the Merlin Trilogy. My daughter has started the first book but I probably won’t get to read any before they are due back. I was thrilled to pick up an as new copy of Madam, Will You Talk at a secondhand book sale the other week for a couple of $. Will certainly be looking out for her books now. 🙂


  2. The Merlin Series has been my favorite of hers…although I haven’t finished it, I think there’s four books? She is hit or Miss for me, but I really enjoyed Moonspinners last year. I’m reading one of her children’s books currently, The Little Broomstick. 😄♥️ Enjoyed your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just read that she added a 4th book in the series later, The Wicked Day.
      I’m not a big fantasy reader but my daughter likes the genre.
      I think The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life is a neglected Christian classic which is a shame as it’s very practical & inspiring. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • A literary pilgrimage!! How perfect 🙂
      I’ve been to Paris via the Eurostar while we were visiting the UK – lots of literary delights in Britain but not so much in France as it was a very quick trip we added on before flying back to Australia.
      I had to satisfy myself with Mary Stewart’s descriptions, which were quite vivid.
      Thanks for the link – I’ll go and have a look.


  3. Pingback: The Classics Club: A New List | journey & destination

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