Touch Not the Cat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Touch Not the Cat
First edition
Author Mary Stewart
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 302
ISBN 0-340-20157-6

Touch Not the Cat is a novel by Mary Stewart; it was first published in 1976 and is one of her best-known works.[1] Like many of Stewart's novels, the story has a supernatural element.[2]

Besides the fictional Ashley family of the novel, real-life Scottish clans whose mottoes begin with "Touch not the cat" include Clan Mackintosh, Clan Macpherson and Clan MacBean.

Plot summary[edit]

The heroine, Bryony Ashley, has the gift of telepathy, and is able to communicate subliminally with a man she regards as her lover, but whose identity she is unsure of. She knows that he is a blood relative, and assumes him to be one of her three male cousins, twins Emory and James, and the younger Francis.

Bryony returns to the UK having received a telepathic message and discovers that her father has been hit by a car, and has died after speaking some mysterious phrases.

She remains puzzled about the identity of her telepathic contact. Her initial preference is for James, but she gradually realises that the twins are plotting to steal her inheritance, and are willing to murder for it. She learns also that her secret lover is a long-standing friend to whom she had not known she was related, the man-of-all-work around Ashley Court, Rob Granger, whom Bryony grew up with.

Bryony gradually solves her father's puzzles, some of which involve a maze depicted on the family's arms, the motto being "Touch not the cat". In the book's climax, when they learn that she has married Rob, the twins try to murder Bryony and flood the property so they can sell it for redevelopment. She is saved by Rob, with whom she plans to emigrate, and Francis belatedly shows up, the implication being that he will take over the care of Ashley Court.