This Rough Magic, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


'A comfortable chair and a Mary Stewart: total heaven.

I'd rather read her than most other authors.' Harriet EvansLucy Waring, a young, out-of-work actress from London, leaps at the chance to visit her sister for a summer on the island paradise of Corfu, and what's more, a famous but reclusive actor is staying in a villa nearby.

But Lucy's hopes for rest and romance are shattered when a body washes up on the beach and she finds herself swept up in a chilling chain of events.

I shuddered, and drank my coffee, leaning back in my chair to gaze out across pine tops furry with gold towards the sparkling sea, and surrendering myself to the dreamlike feeling that marks the start of a holiday ...


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: ELT graded readers
  • ISBN: 9781444720501

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This was exactly what I needed after handing in my dissertation yesterday. Adventures and romance with a touch of danger, but where you're pretty sure it'll turn out okay in the end, and if you've read any Mary Stewart at all, you know it'll end with a wedding. There's your usual plucky heroine, a couple of potential love interests, and the usual exotic setting, this time in Corfu, and this time laced with Shakespeare -- which might put some people off, because I don't tend to like books that try to do something with Shakespeare, whether it be modern retellings (which makes me wonder why I did pick up a copy of Anne Fortier's Juliet -- sheer curiosity, I suppose) or finding a lost sonnet or love affair or the true identity of Shakespeare. But this doesn't aspire to such lofty heights: one of the characters claims that Corfu was the setting of The Tempest, but there's not too much emphasis on that. Rather, it's about smuggling and murder and our brave heroine throwing herself into the middle of that, making assumptions, and at the end falling into the comforting arms of her lover.<br/><br/>So, Mary Stewart as usual. This one is fun, and while I didn't find it quite as atmospheric as, say, My Brother Michael, when it came to evoking the landscape, still it was there and very clearly drawn. I was amused by the reference to colonialism in the way that Lucy mocked the guide talking about Corfu "coming under the protection of" the British Empire, when of course the whole book is still rife with that attitude -- her condescending attitude toward the Corfiotes and their religion, the fact that they needed a bunch of British people to sort out their problems, the savage side of them that's revealed toward the end of the book... It's mostly benign, but it's still there if you open your eyes to it. Fortunately, since I've read a fair few Mary Stewart novels now, I was expecting it and it is, of course, very much of its time.<br/><br/>So all in all, another fun outing for me with Mary Stewart.

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