Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Mary Stewart appreciation

Writer Unboxed has a lovely post up about Mary Stewart. Sophie Masson, the author, marvels that though she first discovered and loved Stewart as a teenager, the magic of Stewart's books is undiminished as she re-reads them as an adult. I absolutely agree! Her stories are timeless. Here's a quote from the post:
I was struck by the clarity, beauty and intelligence of her style, and the way it manages to wear its learning so lightly. For there are many, many literary and historical allusions in Mary Stewart’s books; her love of Shakespeare and of Greek and Roman classics and Celtic myth, especially, shines through, enriching the books whilst never being overbearing. Her evocation of place, of landscape and architecture and atmosphere, is superb. She effortlessly bridges the so-called gap between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction, proving you don’t have to use tortured ‘literary’ constructions to write well, and neither do you need to write ‘down’ in order to tell a rattling good story.

The comments on the post prove again to me how many people were given Stewarts' books as a teenager by their mothers (as I was), and have read and reread them for years. Also striking is how many authors quote her as the inspiration for their becoming writers themselves.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Photo Gallery: This Rough Magic

Finally a second installment of our photo gallery feature, where we bring you pictures of the fabulous settings from Mary Stewart's novels! (Our first photo gallery was for Madam, Will You Talk.) Today we're showing photos of Corfu, the setting of This Rough Magic.

Corfu Island
photo by Robert Louden

"Perhaps I should explain (for those who are not so lucky as I) that Corfu is an island off the west coast of Greece. It is long and sickle-shaped, and lies along the curve of the coast... At its northern end the island is broad and mountainous, tailing off through rich valleys and ever decreasing hills into the long, flat scorpion's tail of the south from which some think that Corfu, or Kerkyra, gets its name."

photo by Helen Parker

photo by Marite2007

"The bay was small and sheltered, a sickle of pure white sand holding back the aquamarine sea, and held in its turn by the towering backdrop of cliff and pine and golden-green trees."

The Albanian coast
photo by theoldsmithy

"Away northward, across the dark blue strait, loomed, insubstantial as mist, the ghostly snows of Albania."

Corfu Town
photo by

Palm Sunday procession in Corfu Town
photo by mbavinton

"Presently, from somewhere, a big bell struck, and there came the distant sound of the bands starting up. Thevast crowd fell almost silent, all eyes turned to watch the narrow mouth of Nikephoros Street, where the first banners glinted, slowly moving up into the sunlight of the square. The procession had begun."

Keeping Godfrey entertained at the Achilleion
photo by Ava Babili

"I remember very little now of my tour of the Achilleion. I am sure Godfrey was a good guide; I recollect that he talked charmingly and informatively all the time, and I must have made the right responses; but I was obsessed with my new hatred of him..."

Lucy's dolphin
photo by fotolen

"Far out in the bay a curve of blue fire melted, rolled in a silver wheel, and was lost under the light of day."

*All quotes are from This Rough Magic, copyright 1964, by Mary Stewart