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Touch Not the Cat

Narrated by: Zoe Mills
Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An exceptional novel of dark family secrets - danger lurks behind every shadow in Mary Stewart's classic novel of romantic suspense.

Ashley Court: the tumbledown ancestral home of the Ashley family, all blessed with 'the gift' of being able to speak to each other without words. When Bryony Ashley's father dies under mysterious circumstances, his final words a cryptic warning to her, Bryony returns from abroad to uncover Ashley Court's secrets. What did her father's message mean? What lies at the centre of the overgrown maze in the gardens? And who is trying to prevent Bryony from discovering the truth?

Tell Bryony. The cat, it's in the cat on the pavement. The map. The letter. In the brook. Tell Bryony. My little Bryony to be careful. Danger.

©1976 Mary Stewart (P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

What listeners say about Touch Not the Cat

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  • Bel
  • 16-06-2019

Underwhelmed

I grew up reading Mary Stewart at the recommendation of my Great Aunt and have always been fond of it but this one I just couldn't believe in. I liked the premise of the physic connection but it felt very ham-fisted in places and I just didn't like the characters.

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  • Sophia Rose
  • 03-03-2020

A Bit of Atmosphere in Nostalgic Rom Suspense


I read this originally nearly thirty years ago so when I saw that Mary Stewart's books were getting their American Audiobook release, I was ecstatic. Love Mary Stewart! Touch Not the Cat is one of her few romantic suspenses that got brushed with the paranormal which makes for an additional treat.

Bryony Ashley is working in a hotel when she gets a mental message from her secret friend and lover that her father is near death. She gets to Germany where Jon Ashley had been staying with his medical friend too late to see him alive, but he left her a cryptic message and she means to understand what he was trying to say.

Bryony goes home to England to Ashley Court, the ancient, somewhat dilapidated family seat. She and her father live in a cottage on the grounds while a wealthy American family are leasing a portion of the main house while the historic public rooms are open for tours along with the moat, the gardens, and the maze. All of it is falling down and there is barely funds coming in to hold onto it, but now with her father dead it will fall on her father's cousin Howard Ashley living in Spain. Howard has poor health so Emery the oldest of the twin cousins will likely end up with the court and its upkeep.

Bryony has a mysterious encounter at the old church when laying her father to rest, but that is followed by a warmer welcome from Rob Grainger the caretaker of the court, the Vicar, and the Hendersons. Meanwhile she discovers there has been theft, pressure from the twins to vote to end the entail and sell her strip of land, but worst is evidence that someone close to her might have been involved in her father's death.

Through it all, her secret psychic friend and lover is nearby and staying secret. She wonders which Ashley relation inherited the Ashley gift with her and is the other half of her soul since childhood. She fears it is the one she suspects of a dark deed.

Alongside Bryony's modern story are snippets at the end of each chapter sharing a past time line with the man known as Wicked Nick Ashley sharing the true story of the last events of his life.

I love how Mary Stewart built up the suspense and gave this story atmosphere. Bryony is a likeable and intelligent heroine who has the narration and slowly works out the truth of what is going on and what her father was trying to tell her. Her romance was sweet and the first time I read this, it was a delightful surprise. This time around, I saw the hints at the truth before the reveal and enjoyed that too.

It was fun slipping back into country house England and London of the mid-70's. It felt timeless in ways and yet was fun because it was written as a contemporary at the time.

The narrator, Zoe Mills, was a first time for me, but I thought she nailed Bryony's voice and did great at the rest of the cast which were predominately male. I thought she even got Herr Goddard's German accent and even the American family from California. Most of the time, she narrated with a minimum of acting, but it was great how she swept me up during the climax scene with a bit more. I'll be keeping an eye out for more of her work.

I didn't remember how this ended a little abruptly. Everything of significance happened or was explained, but there was also a bit of speculation, too. Funny how I was satisfied with that back then and now I'm more nosey and want all the details.

All in all, this was a great reunion with a brilliant romantic suspense author's works. I will definitely be availing myself of more and recommend her stuff to those who want some older romantic suspense to try.

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  • Linda Bourn
  • 29-03-2020

Great mystery by a very good author.

Mary Stewart at her best in this book. keeps you in suspense to the end!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Odinia
  • 11-01-2020

One of the best,if not the best,Mary Stewart novel

This is one of the better Mary Stewart novels. The heroine is, as usual, a bit of a wet noodle, but it is very well done and has all sorts of interesting elements such as mysterious mazes, hidden Roman mosaics, and psychic communication, and romance. It really is very good and well worth your credit.

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  • Customer
  • 11-12-2019

A old favorite

The narrator perfectly paints the picture of the young woman telling the story of her home, legacy and family. Having read most of Mary Stewart’s work years ago, the Audible books add a dimension that fleshes out the characters and sense of time and place. This was a wonderful listening/reading experience and and I am so looking forward to revisiting My Cousin Michael, another old favorite from Mary Stewart.

I am using the immersion method promoted by Amazon to read and listen at the same time to the Stewart books and really have enjoyed the experience. I’ve done the same with the Charles Todd Inspector Rutledge series and Dick Francis horse racing mysteries. The right narrator makes favorites a fresh experience to enjoy.

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  • Voracious Reader
  • 13-11-2019

Loved it!

I've read this book in the past, but this is a new audiobook for me. I already loved the story, and Zoe Mills' narration only added to it. I enjoyed the snippets of the other tragic love story the began each of the chapters. Following it and the rest of it was a delight.

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  • Eileen
  • 12-10-2019

One of Mary Stewart's best

This is a lovely story. It contains just the right balance of fantasy, romance, and mystery.

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  • Susan Weaver
  • 13-09-2019

Enchanting!

Like all Mary Stewart’s books, wonderful characters, beautiful descriptions, and a lively plot. This one has an additional spell of fantasy and history throughout.

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  • Spikyjules
  • 23-07-2019

A little bit different from MS's other books

I read this book many years ago and enjoyed it just as much on audio. A supernatural element to this book which added to the story and gave a twist at the end.

A story that reminds me of Barbara Michaels books - an element of danger, romance and supernatural - unfortunately not available on audio:-(

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  • Maggie
  • 31-08-2019

A slight departure for Mary Stewart

As another reviewer has commented, this book is a bit of a departure from Mary Stewart's normal romance/mystery books in that it strays into the past, ESP and psychic links / thought transference within families.
All this is enclosed within a modern mystery with the usual murder / general nastiness combined with romance that is Mary Stewart's trademark.
That it's different doesn't mean it's not good, it is - very. It's the story of Bryony returning after her father's death to what has been her family's home for many generations aware that apart from personal bequests the entailed property now moves elsewhere in her family. Sounds like something out of Jane Austen, but it's not, it's set in modern times, holds the attention and builds to a really climatic conclusion.
The book is evocative and enjoyable with well drawn characters, from Bryony herself, her father (although we never actually meet him, he's very real) her cousins, the tough US businessman with a friendly wife and spoiled daughter who are renting the house, the vague minister, the kind and helpful pair of foreign Doctor and local Solicitor to the farm manager / man of all work, Rob Granger.
It also makes you want to whizz back down the centuries and defend Bryony's ancestor, Wicked Nick (well, it does me, anyway). As someone who spends a lot of time researching family trees, both my own and other peoples', it's fascinating.
And on the whole it's well read.
So why not 5 stars all round? For the story, always. For the narration, everything worked for me but Rob Granger. The 'country cousin' bit is so overdone he comes across with the hackneyed tones of a rather stupid straw chewing yokel when he's anything but, and that's a shame because he, of all the voices, jarred and was not believable.
That's the only downside though, and if you can live with that, it's well worth listening to.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-08-2020

Lovely story spoiled by the narration.

One of my favourite Mary Stewart stories. Read too quickly and breathlessly with pauses in strange places. Such a shame.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-05-2020

Touch not the cat

This book would make a wonderful film mystery, murder, romance, fantasy, It has everything. Grips all through .

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-01-2020

Easy listening

I think this is my favourite Mary Stuart book. Characters you care about, mystery, magic.

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  • Roisin
  • 11-12-2019

Read second time

I read this book many years ago as a young adult and loved it but now that I have read hundreds of books I didn't love it second time around or at least that is what I concluded. So not sure. its not boring, its read well and you might love it but you won't hate it.

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  • Sue
  • 29-05-2019

Alright but disappointed...

Adored Mary Stewart's earlier books, which I read from the late 1958's, and have also adored the recent new audible readings. Sadly I was disappointed with this one, being a later story I had not read. I wouldn't want to listen again. Am looking forward to the forthcoming earlier titles.

2 people found this helpful