Airs Above the Ground

Airs Above the Ground

by Mary Stewart

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Vanessa March never thought to look for her missing husband in Vienna -- until she saw him in a newsreelshot there at the scene of a deadly fire. But her hunt for answers only leads to more sinister questionsin a mysterious world of beautiful horses.

And what waits for Vanessa in the shadowsis more terrifying thananything she has ever encountered.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060747480
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/30/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 127,494
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About 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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Airs Above the Ground

Chapter One

Nor take her tea without a stratagem.
EDWARD YOUNG: Love of Fame

Carmel Lacy is the silliest woman I know, which is saying a good deal. The only reason that I was having tea with her in Harrods on that wet Thursday afternoon was that when she rang me up she had been so insistent that it had been impossible to get out of; and besides, I was so depressed anyway that even tea with Carmel Lacy was preferable to sitting alone at home in a room that still seemed to be echoing with that last quarrel with Lewis. That I had been entirely in the right, and that Lewis had been insufferably, immovably, furiously in the wrong was no particular satisfaction, since he was now in Stockholm, and I was still here in London, when by rights we should have been lying on a beach together in the Italian sunshine, enjoying the first summer holiday we had been able to plan together since our honey-moon two years ago. The fact that it had rained almost without ceasing ever since he had gone hadn't done anything to mitigate his offence; and when, on looking up "Other People's Weather" in the Guardian each morning, I found Stockholm enjoying a permanent state of sunshine, and temperatures somewhere in the seventies, I was easily able to ignore the reports of a wet, thundery August in southern Italy and concentrate steadily on Lewis's sins and my own grievances.

"What are you scowling about?" asked Carmel Lacy.

"Was I? I'm sorry. I suppose I'm just depressed with the weather and everything. I certainly didn't mean to glower at you! Do go on. Did you decide to buy it in the end?"

"I haven't made up my mind. It's always so terribly difficult to decide ... " Her voice trailed away uncertainly as she contemplated the plate of cakes, her hand poised between a meringue and an éclair. "But you know what they're like nowadays, they won't keep things for you. If I wait much longer they'll simply sell it, and when that happens, one realizes one's really wanted it like mad all along."

And if you wait much longer, I thought, as she selected the éclair, it won't fit you any more. But I didn't think it unkindly; plumpness suits Carmel Lacy, who is one of those blonde, pretty women whose looks depend on the fair, soft coloring which seems to go on indestructibly into middle age, and to find a whole new range of charm when the fair hair turns white.

Carmel -- whose hair was still a rather determined shade of gold -- had been my mother's contemporary at school. Her kind of prettiness had been fashionable then, and her goodtempered softness had made her popular; her nickname, according to my mother, had been Caramel, which seemed appropriate. She had not been a close friend of Mother's at school, but the two girls were thrown together in the holidays by the nearness of their families and by professional connections between them. Carmel's father had owned and trained race horses, while my grandfather, who was a veterinary surgeon, had been, so to speak, surgeon in attendance. Soon after the girls left school their ways parted: my mother married her father's young partner and stayed in Cheshire; but Carmel left home for London where she married "successfully"; that is, she acquired a wealthy London banker whose dark, florid good looks told you exactly the kind of man he would be in his forties, safely ensconced in the Jaguar belt with three carefully spaced children away at carefully chosen schools. But the marriage had not worked out. Carmel, to all appearances the kind of soft maternal creature whom you would have sworn would make the ideal wife and mother, combined with this a possessiveness so clinging that it had threatened to drown her family like warm treacle. The eldest girl had gone first, off into the blue with a casually defiant announcement that she had got a job in Canada. The second daughter had torn herself loose at nineteen and followed her Air Force husband to Malta without a backward look. The husband had gone next, leaving a positive embarrassment of riches in the way of evidence for the divorce. Which left the youngest child, Timothy, whom I vaguely remembered meeting around his grandfather's stables during school holidays; a slight, darting, quicksilver boy with a habit of sulky silences, readily forgivable in any child exposed to the full blast of his mother's devotion.

She was moaning comfortably over him now, having disposed (as far as I had been able to follow her) of her dressmaker, her doctor, her current escort, her father, my mother, two more cream cakes and, for some reason which I cannot now remember, the Postmaster General ...

" ... And as a matter of fact I don't know what to do. He's being so difficult. He knows just how to get on my nerves. Dr. Schwapp was saying only yesterday -- "

"Timmy's being difficult?"

"Well, of course. Not that his father wasn't just the same, in fact his father started the whole thing. You'd really think he'd have the decency to keep out of Timmy's life now, wouldn't you, after what he did?"

"Is he coming back into Timmy's life?"

"My dear, that's the whole point. It's all just come out, and that's why I'm so upset. He's been writing to Timmy, quite regularly, imagine, and now apparently he wants him to go and see him."

I said, feeling my way: "He's abroad, isn't he, your -- Tim's father?"

"Graham? Yes, he's living in Vienna. We don't write," said Carmel with what was, for her, remarkable brevity.

"And has he seen anything of Timothy since the divorce?" I added awkwardly: "I didn't know what the arrangements were at the time, Aunt Carmel."

She said with an irritation momentarily more genuine than any feeling she had shown up to now: "For goodness' sake don't call me that, it makes me feel a hundred!

Airs Above the Ground. Copyright © by Mary Stewart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Airs above the Ground 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my all-time favorite book. I first read it when I was in my teens and have re-read it several times since. It never grows old for me. The story and dialog are fantastic. Be sure to find a comfortable place when you begin to read this because you'll be there for a long time - the book is that hard to put down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the books that I just couldn't put down and had to keep reading before I could rest and go to sleep. All the action and the suspense is something every book ought to have!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Airs above the ground is an exceptionally well written book. After having read her Merlin trilogy and this, I feel inclined to read more of her books. I stayed up all night to finish this book.
tm_roy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite Mary Stewart book and the one that first introduced me to this author. Lipizzaner horses, a woman vet (in the time of the novel, and in the 70s when I read it, it meant a lot to me), a traveling circus, horses, and a strong, edge of the seat suspense mixed with just the right amount of romance. Did I mention horses? I never get tired of revisiting this story and have read it at least once every four years since first picking it up over thirty years ago.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Vanessa March is offered the chance to chaperone a teenage boy to Vienna, she nearly says no¿until she sees her husband in a newsreel, filmed at the scene of a circus fire near Vienna. In addition, he's in the company of a very pretty blonde... Vanessa's travels to Vienna lead her in the way of the Spanish Riding School, circuses, and a mystery that brings mystery¿as well as, of course, a touch of romance.This is one of Stewart¿s less romantic novels, mostly because the heroine is already married to the hero and you more or less know that they¿ll end up together. There¿s also a bit less suspense, though there¿s a chase scene up on the battlements of the castle that¿s written in classic Mary Stewart style. The mystery itself also isn¿t all that compelling, as it¿s been done many times before.What I do love about Mary Stewart¿s novels is the locations she chooses to set her novels in¿and she does a pretty fine job of researching her settings, too. This book makes me want to book a flight to Vienna ASAP! Her descriptions of the ¿airs above the ground¿ are excellent, too. (Vanessa is a former veterinarian, so her interest in the horses of the story stems from that). The characters are all very well formed, though I thought that Tim was a little too mature for a seventeen-year-old! Nonetheless, this novel is a lot of fun¿though if you¿re new to Mary Stewart¿s novels, I¿d suggest starting with one of her others (Nine coaches Waiting and Madam, Will You Talk? come highly recommended by me).
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's symptomatic of the way I found books and authors when I was younger that I never discovered Mary Stewart's gothics until a couple of years ago. In my teens and early twenties, I loved Victoria Holt's gothics, considering them a peculiar sort of mysteries, and a bit of a guilty pleasure. I hadn't heard the term "gothics". I'd have loved Mary Stewart's books, too, but it never occurred to me to look for books similar to Holt's; nor did I talk to any other readers about them. Not that I really knew any other readers. The same thing happened with mysteries, and science fiction and fantasy. I read everything by a handful of authors, some popular, some more obscure, but completely missed a lot of the giants of the genres.But it's all good. It just means that I have a few zillion old books to enjoy... along with the few zillion new books on my list.Airs Above the Ground is a bit unusual for a gothic, in my experience anyway, in that the heroine is already married to the hero. Vanessa thinks her new husband is on a business trip to Stockholm... then she sees him in a newsreel with another woman on his arm--and they're in Vienna.So when a friend asks Vanessa to escort her teenaged son to visit his father in Austria, Vanessa takes the chance to find out what's going on, and they find themselves caught up in the exotic world of a small traveling circus, international drug smuggling, mysterious deaths, and the world-famous Lipizzaner Stallions. Not to mention the difficulties of being newlyweds.The atmosphere is pure gothic, and a lot of the Amazon reviews rave about the horses (I'm not a fan of horses), but what I enjoyed most about this book is how all the various threads intertwined and affected each other.
jnyrose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mary Stewart's mysteries are always a treat. This one, set in Europe, follows the heroine's unraveling of a mystery with world-wide implications. The suspense, romance, and genteel descriptions one would expect from Stewart are all here.
PRMCA More than 1 year ago
This was the first Mary Stewart novel I read when I was a young woman. I loved it then, and still enjoy rereading it. This book as well as Mary Stewart's "The Ivy Tree" are wonderful! Stewart's writing places you right in the story. I do wish they would release these in eBook form, but highly recommend that women of any age get to know Mary Stewart!
kDreamer More than 1 year ago
This mystery that starts with a wife trying to find why her husband is lying to her about where he is morphs into a murder mystery centered around a circus. One reason why I love it is the horses. Because the circus is in Austria there's a castle and about the Lipizzaners - hence the title "Airs Above the Ground".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mary Stewart is one of my favorite writers. I think her best work is her Merlin series, but Airs Above the Ground is very good. Right up there with Nine Coaches Waiting and Wildfire at Midnight. I have read most of her books and this one is one I would read again.
Bonju More than 1 year ago
I read this as a reader's digest book back in the day Reader's Digest had those condensed books 5 in all. It is so much fun to read and adventurous with romance - it reminds me of CHARADES with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant - I absolutely enjoyed reading this tale.
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