I don’t know why I keep coming back to this book: there’s something about it. The sense of place, of course — that’s a given in Mary Stewart’s work. But the lead male character in the romance is just so… for a good chunk of the book he’s violent and unpleasant, and there’s a whole sense of dread about him ever catching up with Charity. The moment when they end up on the same side feels jarring — I don’t feel like the reader is prepared well enough for the switching of sides.
But on the other hand, there’s Charity and her attitude to her relationship with her late husband. Like this bit, just — ahh:
Past and future dovetailed into this moment, and together made the pattern of my life. I would never again miss Johnny, with that deep dull aching, as if part of me had been wrenched away, and the scar left wincing with the cold; but, paradoxically enough, now that I was whole again, Johnny was nearer to me than he had ever been since the last time that we had been together, the night before he went away. I was whole again, and Johnny was there for ever, part of me always. Because I had found Richard, I would never lose Johnny. Whatever I knew of life and loving had been Johnny’s gift, and without it Richard and I would be the poorer. We were both his debtors, now and for ever.
It’s not just a whirlwind romance with a weird love/hate thing going on, and nor is just the mystery and adventure. There’s also this maturity towards relationships underneath that… yeah. I think that’s a big part of why I enjoy Charity — plus, of course, her fast driving and her determination to take care of David, for all that he’s a stranger to her.