When Rose Fenemore sets out to meet her brother Crispin on the island of Moila off the west coast of Scotland, she looks forward to a quiet holiday in a natural paradise of seabirds and wild flowers. Remote and lonely, the island seems to Rose the ideal place away from it all. The isolated cottage she has rented, advertised as an ‘ivory tower,’ promises to be a perfect retreat where she can finish writing a novel, and where Crispin can walk and fish and indulge his passion for photography.
But things do not turn out so idyllically. Her brother’s arrival is delayed, and the island’s peace is shattered by the appearance one night of two men seeking shelter from a violent summer storm – men whose conflicting stories draw Rose into a web of menace and suspicion.
Rose’s discovery of the stormy petrels – the fragile, elusive birds who nest ashore but spend most of their lives flying close above the sea waves – comes to symbolise the confusion she feels about Ewen Mackay, the man known as the island’s prodigal son, and about the man calling himself John Parsons, whose account of himself Rose has every reason to distrust.
Moving through the arresting landscape of Scotland’s fabled Western Islands, The Stormy Petrel is an enthralling story of mystery and suspense, with the touch of romance and sheer good writing that is the hallmark of Mary Stewart’s work. It is a splendid addition to her long and distinguished list of international best sellers.