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Nine Coaches Waiting

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Nine Coaches Waiting

Nine Coaches Waiting
First UK edition
Author Mary Stewart
Cover artist Eleanor Poore
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Mystery, Romance novel
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date
1958
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
OCLC 259252977

Nine Coaches Waiting is a suspense, Gothic Romance novel by Mary Stewart published originally in 1958.

The novel tells the haunting tale of a young English governess, Belinda (known as "Linda") Martin, who travels to Château Valmy, near Thonon-les-Bains, France to take care of nine-year-old Philippe de Valmy. There she finds herself tangled in a plot to murder her ward and tries to save Philippe, which eventually results in many revelations of dark family secrets.

Stewart includes chapter epigraphs quoting from Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, among other quotations that fit the themes or actions of each scene.

Synopsis

Linda Martin lands in Paris on a cold, grey, rainy day. She is on her way to her new post as governess to the young Count Philippe de Valmy. Linda, who has been orphaned, quickly befriends Philippe, who has also lost both his parents in a tragic accident. The nine-year-old boy lives with his aunt and uncle in the vast and ornate Château Valmy in the French countryside. Léon de Valmy, Philippe's uncle, runs the estate on behalf of his under-age nephew until he comes of age and has arranged for a proper English governess for his charge. When Linda arrives at the imposing manor she is at once enchanted by its beauty and history, but is also immediately struck by the sense of menace and doom surrounding the land and its inhabitants. Léon is a charismatic force of nature and quite charming, and, when Linda meets his reckless and rakishly handsome son Raoul, she understands a bit more about the de Valmy heritage and what makes this family tick. As she becomes closer to Philippe and Raoul, Linda draws ever nearer to putting her finger on the source of the threat, but the layers of danger and darkness run deeper than any of them guessed, and she may not be able to trust those she wants to, no matter how innocent or attractive they may seem. Soon it is up to the shy young governess to beat the clock in order to save Philippe's life as well as her own.

Characters

  • Linda Martin - The 23-year-old English governess who arrives at Château Valmy to take care of Philippe. She is the protagonist and the narrator.
  • Léon de Valmy - The cynical trustee of Château Valmy. He uses a wheelchair, having lost the use of his legs in a polo accident many years before.
  • William Blake - An Englishman who is a forester in lands neighbouring Château Valmy. He is the only person Linda trusts.
  • Philippe de Valmy – Nine-year-old Philippe is quiet and shy. He inherited Château Valmy at the death of his father.
  • Héloïse de Valmy - Léon's wife. She is very frail and suffers from depression.
  • Raoul de Valmy - Léon's 30-year-old son, who is impulsive and an adventurer. He runs Bellevigne, another de Valmy estate.
  • Hippolyte de Valmy - Léon's younger brother, who is an archaeologist and is generally away from the Chateau on expeditions.
  • Berthe - The maid at Château Valmy, who bonds with Linda. She is engaged to Léon's caretaker Bernard.

Notes

The novel is divided into Nine parts or 9 Coaches. The title 'Nine Coaches Waiting' is derived from The Revenger's Tragedy -

Oh, think upon the pleasure of the palace:
Secured ease and state, the stirring meats,
Ready to move out of the dishes,
That e'en now quicken when they're eaten,
Banquets abroad by torch-light, musics, sports,
Bare-headed vassals that had ne'er the fortune
To keep on their own hats but let horns [wear] 'em,
Nine coaches waiting. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

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