I remembered liking this book as a teen/pre-teen, but it did not stand up well on the re-read.
The author's descriptions of the setting are marvelous, but the plot is thin and elements don't hang together very well.
This is Mary Stewart's first romantic suspense novel, and my favorite. The story and romance are more successful in Nine Coaches Waiting, but Madam Will You Talk is unique in its evocation of place: the south of France. The heroine and her friend, both English schoolteachers on holiday, arrive at their hotel, and Charity is immediately involved in a deadly plot when she befriends a young boy staying there with his stepmother. Another guest tells her that the boy's father has been tried for murder, and the boy and his stepmother are fleeing the dangerous father, who has been acquitted. Soon she is confronted with the father while taking the boy sight-seeing, and flees with the terrified boy. That is just the beginning of an exciting and surprising story.
The way Stewart makes the reader see, smell and taste the warm country of the south of France is nothing short of extraordinary,and her writing never surpassed what she did here.
Mary Stewart is a wonderful writer. I love all of her books. If you've never read a Gothic then you are in for a treat. The book is old but well worth the read.