Madam, Will You Talk?

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Overview

Much of a strange and tragic drama of revenge, lust, fear, and death has already been played by the time Charity Selborne arrives at a plush resort in the South of France.

But by befriending a terrified boy and catching the attention of his enigmatic, possibly murderous father, Charity has inadvertently placed herself center stage.

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Overview

Much of a strange and tragic drama of revenge, lust, fear, and death has already been played by the time Charity Selborne arrives at a plush resort in the South of France.

But by befriending a terrified boy and catching the attention of his enigmatic, possibly murderous father, Charity has inadvertently placed herself center stage.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Sandra Brown
“Don’t wait for a rainy day to curl up with a book by Mary Stewart.”
Elizabeth Lowell
“Nobody does it better.”
Barbara Michaels
“I’ve always loved Mary Stewart’s wonderful novels of suspense, romance and exotic adventure.”
Columbus Dispatch
“An author skilled at blending suspense with drama and romance.”
Richmond News Leader
“A master craftsman.”
Orlando Sentinel
“Mary Stewart’s novels are the stuff of legend.”
Chattanooga Times
“One of the modern masters in the suspense field.”
Tulsa World
“A fabulous storyteller.”
Houston Post
“Suspense, mystery, a literate style, colorful settings vividly conjured up.”
San Francisco News
“Ever-mounting tension superbly handled.”
New York Times Book Review
“Adventure rich in action and suspense.”
New York Times
“Unusually skillful...headlong urgency of action.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780854569502
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 5/1/1967

Meet the Author

Mart Stewart is one of the most widely read fiction writers of our time. The author of twenty novels, a volume of poetry, and three books for young readers, she is admired for both her contemporary stories of romantic suspense and her historical novels. Born in England, she has lived for many years in Scotland.

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First Chapter

Madam, Will You Talk?

Chapter One

Enter four or five players.

The whole affair began so very quietly. When I wrote, that summer, and asked my friend Louise if she would come with me on a car trip to Provence, I had no idea that I might be issuing an invitation to danger. And when we arrived one afternoon, after a hot but leisurely journey, at the enchanting little walled city of Avignon, we felt in that mood of pleasant weariness mingled with anticipation which marks, I believe, the beginning of every normal holiday.

No cloud in the sky; no sombre shadow on the machicolated walls; no piercing glance from an enigmatic stranger as we drove in at the Porte de la République and up the sundappled Cours Jean-Jaurès. And certainly no involuntary shiver of apprehension as we drew up at last in front of the Hôtel Tistet-Védène, where we had booked rooms for the greater part of our stay.

I even sang to myself as I put the car away, and when I found they had given me a room with a balcony overlooking the shaded courtyard, I was pleased.

And when, later on, the cat jumped on to my balcony, there was still nothing to indicate that this was the beginning of the whole strange, uneasy, tangled business. Or rather, not the beginning, but my own cue, the point where I came in. And though the part I was to play in the tragedy was to break and reform the pattern of my whole life, yet it was a very minor part, little more than a walk-on in the last act. For most of the play had been played already; there had been love and lust and revenge and fear and murder—all the blood-tragedy bric-à-brac except the Ghost -- and now the killer, with blood enough on his hands, was waiting in the wings for the lights to go up again, on the last kill that would bring the final curtain down.

How was I to know, that lovely quiet afternoon, that most of the actors in the tragedy were at that moment assembled in this neat, unpretentious little Provençal hotel? All but one, that is, and he, with murder in his mind, was not so very far away, moving, under that blazing southern sun, in the dark circle of his own personal hell. A circle that narrowed, gradually, upon the Hôtel Tistet-Védène, Avignon.

But I did not know, so I unpacked my things slowly and carefully, while, on my bed, Louise lay and smoked and talked about the mosquitoes.

"And now -- a fortnight," she said dreamily. "A whole fortnight. And nothing to do but drink, and sit in the sun."

"No eating? Or are you on a cure?"

"Oh, that. One's almost forgotten how. But they tell me that in France the cattle still grow steaks ... I wonder how I shall stand up to a beefsteak?"

"You have to do these things gradually." I opened one of the slatted shutters, closed against the late afternoon sun. "Probably the waiter will just introduce you at first, like Alice -- Louise, biftek; biftek, Louise. Then you both bow, and the steak is ushered out."

"And of course, in France, no pudding to follow." Louise sighed. "Well, we'll have to make do. Aren't you letting the mosquitoes in, opening that shutter?"

"It's too early. And I can't see to hang these things away. Do you mind either smoking that cigarette or putting it out? It smells."

"Sorry." She picked it up again from the ashtray. "I'm too lazy even to smoke. I warn you, you know, I'm not going sight-seeing. I couldn't care less if Julius Caesar used to fling his auxiliaries round the town, and throw moles across the harbour mouth. If you want to go and gasp at Roman remains you'll have to go alone. I shall sit under a tree, with a book, as near to the hotel as possible."

I laughed, and began putting out my creams and sunburn lotions on what the Hôtel Tistet-Védène fondly imagined to be a dressing-table.

"Of course I don't expect you to come. You'll do as you like. But I believe the Pont du Gard -- "

"My dear, I've seen the Holborn Viaduct. Life can hold no more ... "

Louise stubbed out her cigarette carefully, and then folded her hands behind her head. She is tall and fair and plump, with long legs, a pleasant voice, and beautiful hands. She is an artist, has no temperament to speak of, and is unutterably and incurably lazy. When accused of this, she merely says that she is seeing life steadily and seeing it whole, and this takes time. You can neither ruffle nor surprise Louise; you can certainly never quarrel with her. If trouble should ever arise, Louise is simply not there; she fades like the Cheshire Cat, and comes back serenely when it is all over. She is, too, as calmly independent as a cat, without any of its curiosity. And though she looks the kind of large lazy fair girl who is untidy -- the sort who stubs out her cigarettes in the face-cream and never brushes the hairs off her coat -- she is always beautifully groomed, and her movements are delicate and precise. Again, like a cat. I get on well with cats. As you will find, I have a lot in common with them, and with the Elephant's Child.

"In any case," said Louise, "I've had quite enough of ruins and remains, in the Gilbertian sense, to last me for a lifetime. I live among them."

I knew what she meant. Before my marriage to Johnny Selborne, I, too, had taught at the Alice Drupe Private School for Girls. Beyond the fact that it is in the West Midlands ...

Madam, Will You Talk?. Copyright © by Mary Stewart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2004

    It was Amazing!

    Mary Stewart has really outdone herself. This romance thriller had me up till midnight reading it. The ending is outstanding too. It is by far my favorite book.

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