Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart
Returning to the book all these years later, I found my enjoyment unimpaired. Vanessa March has been patient during the first two years of marriage about husband Lewis’s commitment to his job, but at long last they planning a holiday. So she’s furious when he cancels at the last minute because of a work trip to Stockholm, and then hurt and angry when he is spotted in a newsreel film somewhere in Austria, and apparently with another woman. She’s offered the chance to follow him to Austria, escorting her friend’s 17-year-old son Tim to meet his father, and before long Vanessa and Tim find themselves following a circus towards the Yugoslav border, intent on discovering the truth behind a suspicious death.
The story plays out in just a few days at a fairly breathless pace, with a denouement which begins in a suitably gothic castle. It’s delightfully exciting in a terribly decorous sort of way – it won’t make your heart race, but you probably won’t want to put it down. And you’d have to be pretty hard-boiled not to be caught up in the story of the horse who isn’t what he seems.