Sunday, October 14, 2012

Comfort Reading or Reading Candy?: Re-Reading Mary Stewart

In September, author Mary Stewart celebrated her 96th birthday. Coincidentally, I reread one of her romantic suspense novels that had been a teenage favorite of mine. I was feeling the need for something light, with a happy ending: enter comfort reading (like comfort food, but without all the calories). So, I checked out Nine Coaches Waiting, and devoured it over the course of several lunch hours. While I enjoyed it, I must say that my memories of it are more substantial that the actual book. Clearly it appeals to a younger teen without anything like messy reality to intrude on a happy ever after. When I finished reading it, my main response was "What was she thinking? She barely knew the man!"

A short recap:
  • Girl meets boy when he almost runs over her with car.
  • Boy takes her to dinner, then dancing and gambling to make up for nearly running her over.
  • Boy kisses girl after a fit of jealousy when she is seen talking to a male friend.
  • Girl and boy dance together at a ball.
  • Engagement!

This recap neglects all the suspenseful aspects of the storyline, but I wouldn't want to ruin the part that might keep you guessing.

Even with optimistic calculations, girl and boy have spent less than 24 hours in each other's company before becoming engaged. Maybe the novel is simply a reflection of an earlier era, before cohabitation was more common than not. Maybe it was intended for a younger audience, before Young Adult was a genre. Whatever the reason, I have now firmly removed it from my "comfort reading" category into "candy": sweet, but not very filling.

What books or authors do you consider "comfort reading"?  What's your favorite "reading candy"?

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