Fast cars and feisty women
- Book: Madam, Will You Talk?
- Location: Provence
- Author: Mary Stewart
Charity Selbourne is a wealthy young widow who decides she needs a holiday to escape the gloom of post war London. She and her friend Louise take themselves off to Provence, beginning their tour in Avignon. where Charity is determined to see the sights but Louise prefers to spend her days painting. The other occupants of their smart hotel include David, a young English boy and his French stepmother; Charity befriends the boy, who explains that they are hiding from his father, who has been arrested on a charge of murder. Before long Charity finds herself caught up in a dastardly plot involving fake identities, kidnapping, bigamy – and lots of dramatic car chases through the beautiful landscapes of southern France.
I love Charity for many things; her positivity – she is determined to help David and save him from his fate – her kindness, her bravery, her irrepressible good humour – and her impressive driving ability. Having been taught by her deceased husband, Johnny, to handle powerful cars, Charity whirls through countryside and city in her Riley, outmanoeuvering the villains at every turn. I had been feeling increasingly fed up with miserable ‘heroines’ who bang on and on about their lost loves, how unfair everything is, and how much easier their lives would be if they still had their man; Charity, with her independence and enthusiastic joie de vivre, is a breath of fresh air. And the cars are fabulous too.
‘Madam, Will You Talk?’ was first published in 1954 and has remained in print ever since.