Airs Above the Ground: The suspenseful, romantic story that will sweep you off your feet

Airs Above the Ground: The suspenseful, romantic story that will sweep you off your feet

by Mary Stewart

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A thrilling tale of adventure and deception set in 1950s Austria, from the original queen of romantic suspense.

'This zestful romantic adventure grips, amuses, frightens and delights' Sunday Telegraph

Vanessa March's husband Lewis is meant to be on a business trip in Stockholm. So why does he briefly appear in newsreel footage of a fire at a circus in Vienna, with his arm around another woman? Vanessa flies to Austria to find her husband - and inadvertently becomes involved in a mystery surrounding the famous dancing stallions of Austria's Spanish Riding School . . .

Praise for Mary Stewart:

'Mary Stewart is magic' New York Times

'I'd rather read her than most other authors' Harriet Evans

'One of the great British storytellers of the 20th century' Independent

'She set the benchmark for pace, suspense and romance - with a great dollop of escapism as the icing' Elizabeth Buchan

Reader reviews of Airs Above the Ground:

'You feel you are there in the story. This made my holiday perfect'

'This book has it all . . . thrilling action in a stunning Austrian setting, I loved it'

'A cracking good story, beautifully written. This is a most satisfying read'

'Mary Stewart specialises in novels which have you alternately holding your breath as to what might happen, or chuckling to yourself. This is one of her best'

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781444720532
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd.
Publication date: 05/26/2011
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 8,709
File size: 766 KB

About the Author

Mary Stewart was one of the 20th century's bestselling and best-loved novelists. She was born in Sunderland, County Durham in 1916, but lived for most of her life in Scotland, a source of much inspiration for her writing. Her first novel, Madam, Will You Talk? was published in 1955 and marked the beginning of a long and acclaimed writing career. In 1971 she was awarded the International PEN Association's Frederick Niven Prize for The Crystal Cave, and in 1974 the Scottish Arts Council Award for one of her children's books, Ludo and the Star Horse. She was married to the Scottish geologist Frederick Stewart, and died in 2014.

Read an Excerpt

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: The suspenseful, romantic story that will sweep you off your feet 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why did it take so long for BN to offer so many Stewart's best? "My Brother, Michael", this one, "This Rough Magic", "The Moon-Spinners", "Nine Coaches Waiting".....
Anonymous 8 days ago
The beautiful mystery involving a Lipizzaner and people who are not quite who they appear to be. For me, this is my favorite Mary Stewart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Airs Above the Ground", not so much about a Circus, which almost had me deciding not to read the story and it was the title that had me checking the Reviews. I've been most fortunate to have seen, up close, The Royal Lipizzan Stallions when they appeared in Montreal, Canada, some years ago while we happened to be living there. I'm not a rider and prefer there to be something - like a stable door or fence between us when i'm handing out treats. I care about all creatures and I'm in awe when it involves horses of any breed. This story, with so much else going on to keep the reader's attention is a page turner, a delight and all the more special for me remembering when I saw the magnificent, Lipizzan White Stallions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than i read it in the 20th century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite Mary Stewart novels. I read them all many years ago and my paperback copies have disintegrated from time and multiple readings. I am so grateful to find them through nook. The style is a little dated but the stories are as good as I remember.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A gripping hair-raiser of a mystery. Classic Mary Stewart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a terrific story. Written by a literary master, it tells not only the history of the Lippizan breed but a great fiction mystery story. I have loved Mary Stewart's books over the years and was delighted to find an old friend available on my Nook. Thanks. They don't make them like Mary Stewart any more. Sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thankyou to whoever finally put Mary Stewart out in e-book! I've tried to check yearly for her re-issues, and finally was able to purchase most of them. If you've never read the author all of her books are great but this one was a particular favorite. The Austrian countryside and people of the mid 50's-60's, the smalltime traveling family circus, not to mention the Lippanzer Horses! It's a magical journey with love, mystery, and a comming of age story for a side character. Just lovely!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful well written story of suspense. I can see every place the story takes place and the surroundings. I feel like I am there. No one writes better!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite Mary Stewart books!