Thursday, July 13, 2017

Revisiting Mary Stewart

An interview with Julia Buckley sent me on a mission to reread three books by Mary Stewart. They are This Rough Magic, The Moonspinners and My Brother Michael.  Although they were written in the 1960s, they still are relevant today. Stewart's descriptive writing and character development is timeless. The plots are tightly woven and even though some of her references are dated, the stories still ring true.

In This Rough Magic, actress Lucy Waring is between roles so she heads to her sister's home on the island of Corfu in western Greece. She expects only to sun bathe and take leisurely swims, but suddenly finds herself in the middle of intrigue and murder.

She meets acclaimed, but reclusive British actor Sir. Julian Gale and his not-so-friendly son Max at their home on the island. Sir Julian is rumored to have had a nervous breakdown after the deaths of his wife and daughter and has retired from the stage. Lucy is captivated by his story of The Tempest and its connection to Corfu. First there are the twins Prospero (Spiro) and Miranda, Sir Julian's godchildren. Next are the island's legendary caves and then the dolphins.

When one of the twins is reported drowned in a boat accident and then another fisherman dies in mysterious circumstances, Lucy is drawn in. What she finds is an ingenious operation that threatens the lives of everyone in her tight circle.

In The Moonspinners Nicola Ferris arrives a day early on the island of Crete and impulsively decides
to hike into the mountains. She stumbles on an injured Englishman and his Greek companion hiding in a shepherd's hut and attempting to search for their third companion, a missing teenager. Although they want her to disappear and forget about them, she cannot. Once in the village she quietly tries to discover what has become of the teenager and what nefarious plot is afoot.

Plenty of local color and terrific descriptions of the Cretan hills add to the charm. Nicola is a clever, intrepid sleuth. I enjoyed reading this book as much as I did the first time I read it long ago, and I always liked the book better than the movie version!

The third book is My Brother Michael. Lamenting
"Nothing ever happens to me," Camilla Haven suddenly becomes Monsieur Simon's girl and delivering a car to Delphi is a matter of life and death. Stuck with the car, Camilla decides she was heading to Delphi anyway and heads off awkwardly driving the car into the Greek countryside.

Once there she meets a man named Simon, but he doesn't have any idea about the car. They try to find another Simon, but none is to be found. In the meantime, Camilla has the opportunity to explore the glorious site of Delphi and Simon makes the perfect guide. Camilla learns he is there to find the site where his brother Michael died after World War II.

What they find is murder, smuggling and a secret so great, it would shock the country.

Ah, I loved these books for their characters and for the beautiful descriptions of the wonders of
Greece.  Reread them, you will be glad you did. My copies of the books from long ago.

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