As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

July 31, 2015

THIS ROUGH MAGIC by Mary Stewart, 1964

When Lucy's sister Phyllida suggests that she join her for a quiet holiday on the island of Corfu, Lucy is overjoyed. Her work as an actress has temporarily come to a halt. But the peaceful idyll does not last long. A series of incidents, seemingly unconnected - but all surrounded in mystery - throws Lucy's life into a dangerous spin, as fear, danger and death - as well as romance - supplant the former tranquillity. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Penny Blubaugh - Young Adult Author and Librarian

When Lucy Waring arrives in Corfu to visit her sister all she wants to do is relax and forget about the play with her first major role.  The play that’s just folded under her.  But on her first day she’s almost hit by a bullet as someone shoots at a tame dolphin in the sea.  The son of her sister’s housekeeper is drowned.  A local fisherman goes missing.  And then she meets Sir Julian Gale, renter of the Castello on her sister and brother-in-law’s property.  He’s a leading light of the English theatre who’s disappeared in his own way by retiring from the stage. Suddenly everything begins to click into place when it seems that Max Gale, Sir Julian’s son, is mixed up in all the mayhem.  But is he on the right side or the wrong one? 

First published in 1964, this is one of the books I go back to time and time again.  The setting of Corfu is vivid.  The contrast between the island’s orange trees and pines, its blinding heat and blue, blue water, its serene beauty and the story’s underlying violence make a wonderful read.  Lucy’s relationship with Sir Julian – that of a minor actress meeting her idol and clicking with him as they bond over Shakespeare’s Tempest – is charming.  Her relationship with his son is classic magnetic attraction that both try to ignore as they’re pushed together again and again by Sir Julian’s presence.  And the dark work of a series of coincidences that soon point to a murderer who will stop at nothing is violence layered onto a respite of sun and sea.

Peppered with quotes from Shakespeare’s play and washed in colors of blue and gold, midnight and early mornings, THIS ROUGH MAGIC is a true gothic romance.

Market: YA and Adult                                                                      Language: Mild
Sensuality: Not overt, but nicely sexy
Violence: Lots of it but most is off the page
Themes: Romance, theatre, politics of the 60s

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