Touch Not the Cat

by Mary Stewart, 1976

“bistered” lilies – bistered means brown

“yesty” waves – yesty not in my dictionary

Bryony Ashley’s father dies after being hit by a car. Bryony returns to England from Funchal, Madeira. She returns to Ashley Court, the mansion with a moat and a maze that has been in her family forever.

She has a telepathic lover she has never physically known. She thinks it is her cousin, James, the twin to Emory. But then she finds out it is really Rob Granger, the caretaker. She grew up with him, too. They find out that he’s actually an Ashley and it was his great great grandmother who married Nicholas Ashley in secret. Nick gets murdered but she is pregnant. She swears it is her husband’s and no one knew that she and Nick were actually married, they thought she meant her new husband. But Rob has the Ashley gift – telepathy-because he really is an Ashley. The twins end up wicked. They are the ones who accidentally killed Bryony’s father and left him on the side of the road. They were going to kill Bryony too but she was able to escape through the floor of the pavilion when they flooded the moat. The twins needed the money badly from the Court and they needed it quick and were willing to steal and kill to get it – valuable book, Chinese ceramic horse, etc. All’s well though Emory surely dies from his injuries trying to flood the place. James takes off never to be heard of again. Their younger brother, Francis, sweet young man, shows up at the end and Rob and Bryony probably end up in New Zealand while Francis ends up with Ashley Court – saved forever because the flood uncovered ancient Roman tile work – a cat – under the pavilion.

Great book – great writer.

Cousins marrying – not a problem in England!