The Wind Off The Small Isles by Mary Stewart

poeniesandwind

The Wind Off The Small Isles by Mary Stewart is a long-lost novella, recently republished.

Description:

In 1879, a wealthy young woman elopes with an impoverished fisherman, leaving her family, who live on the volcanic island of Lanzarote, distraught. In 1968, 23-year-old Perdita West, secretary to the famous author Cora Gresham, visits Lanzarote, the strangest and most wild of the Canary Isles, on a research trip. They meet Cora’s estranged son, Mike, and fall in love with the unusual, beautiful little island.

While snorkeling, a landslide traps Perdita in an underwater cave. No one knows where she is, so she can’t count on a rescue. And her efforts to save herself will reveal the solution to a century-old mystery.

Before the story begins, Mary Stewart’s loving niece, Jennifer Ogden, gives a loving tribute. “As her niece and also her constant companion for the last twelve years of her life, I came to know Mary Stewart (Aunty Mary) extremely well and also to realize how lucky we have been as a family to have had within it this extraordinary and fascinating woman.”

After the tribute, the story begins with a prelude which takes place in 1879 in Lanzarote, a Spanish island off the coast of West Africa. Mary Stewart visited the island with her professor husband during one of his research trips. It’s during the prelude we learn about the mystery that will be solved almost a century later by Perdita West. Fast forward to present day and Perdita discovers the mystery by accident while she gets stuck in a cave during snorkeling.

Thewindoffthesmallisles
The Wind off the Small Isles made for perfect in-flight reading!

What I love

Everything! It’s a charming short story (it’s categorized as a novella but actually I’d categorize it as a short story) with a sweet romance and a mystery.

Mary Stewart’s scenes are written so vividly that I felt I was right there. For example, the scene where Perdita gets stuck in the cave is described in such a vivid manner that I began to feel claustrophobia while reading. {My fear is being stuck under water or inside a cave.} During these scenes I felt as if I was right there with Perdita. Let’s just say that if I knew how vivid these scenes were described, I might not have read this novella. That’s how much I suffer from claustrophobia.

But this is what makes Mary Stewart so magical. Her beautifully descriptive writing is what she is known for. Even though this story was very short it did not lack in anything including character development. She writes in a way that pulls you (the reader) into the scenes.

I love the description of Lanzarote and now I want to visit it. The reader gets to know the island really well via the various conversations the characters have and the drive that Perdita takes with her boss, Cora.

I also love that the book is an actual hardcover, even though it’s only 80 pages long.

What I don’t love

It’s a Mary Stewart book, so there isn’t anything that I don’t love. We are lucky that this long-lost story has been republished for us. But if I’m allowed to give a teeny tiny criticism of the book, then I’d say that the book ended too abruptly. The mystery was solved and story over, just like that. It could have gone on for at least another page or so, just to end on a softer note. Either way, this was a charming read and I hope there are hundreds more long-lost Mary Stewart stories waiting to be rediscovered.

Have you read The Wind Off The Small Isles? xoxo, Jane

Amazon US Amazon UK

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links, but it’s also ok if you don’t use the links. I’m just grateful you are here and reading my blog. xoxo, Jane