This Rough Magic

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When Lucy comes to Corfu to visit her sister, she is elated to discover that the castello above their villa is being rented to Sir Julian Gale, one of the brightest lights in England's theatrical world. As a minor player in the London theatre herself, Lucy naturally wishes to meet him—that is, until her sister indicates, with uncharacteristic vagueness, that all is not well with Sir Julian and that his composer son discourages visitors, particularly strangers. Yet Lucy has already encountered Sir ...
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Overview

When Lucy comes to Corfu to visit her sister, she is elated to discover that the castello above their villa is being rented to Sir Julian Gale, one of the brightest lights in England's theatrical world. As a minor player in the London theatre herself, Lucy naturally wishes to meet him—that is, until her sister indicates, with uncharacteristic vagueness, that all is not well with Sir Julian and that his composer son discourages visitors, particularly strangers. Yet Lucy has already encountered Sir Julian's son on the morning of her arrival, in a tempestuous run-in that involved the attempted shooting of a friendly dolphin. First published in 1964, this spirited novel will hold Mary Stewart fans breathless as it uncovers a series of mystifying and frightening events, tinging the otherwise sparkling setting of Corfu with dark hues of violence.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A magical concoction brewed from the most disparate plot elements. . . . A warm and sunny book, for all its violence."  —New York Times

"Romantic, suspenseful, delightful."  —Columbus Dispatch

"The best sort of romantic suspense, the kind that only Mary Stewart could write."  —Nancy Pearl, author, Book Lust to Go

"Mary Stewart's writing is magical, with every word and phrase carefully chosen for beauty and sound and shape. . . . One marvels at the exquisite evocation of scene."  —Los Angeles Times

"Wonderfully evoked atmosphere . . . fine plotting and suspense."  —San Francisco Chronicle

"Suspense and romance, expertly mingled."  —Observer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688026141
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/1964

Meet the Author


Mary Stewart is the author of 20 novels, including the Merlin trilogy, The Ivy Tree, The Moon-Spinners, My Brother Michael, Nine Coaches Waiting, and Thornyhold.
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First Chapter

This Rough Magic

Chapter One

... a relation for a breakfast ...
The Temptest, Act V, Scene 1

"And if it's a boy," said Phyllida cheerfully, "we'll call him Prospero."

I laughed. "Poor little chap, why on earth? Oh, of course ... Has someone been telling you that Corfu was Shakespeare's magic island for The Tempest?"

"As a matter of fact, yes, the other day, but for goodness' sake don't ask me about it now. Whatever you may be used to, I draw the line at Shakespeare for breakfast." My sister yawned, stretched out a foot into the sunshine at the edge of the terrace, and admired the expensive beach sandal on it. "I didn't mean that, anyway, I only meant that we've already got a Miranda here, and a Spiro, which may not be short for Prospero, but sounds very like it."

"Oh? It sounds highly romantic. Who are they?"

"A local boy and girl: they're twins."

"Good heavens. Papa must be a literary gent?"

Phyllida smiled. "You could say so."

Something in her expression roused my curiosity, just as something else told me she had meant to; so I -- who can be every bit as provoking as Phyllida when I try -- said merely, "Well, in that case hadn't you better have a change? How about Caliban for your unborn young? It fits like a glove."

"Why?" she demanded indignantly.

" 'This blue-eyed hag was hither brought with child,' " I quoted. "Is there some more coffee?"

"Of course. Here. Oh, my goodness, it's nice to have you here, Lucy! I suppose I oughtn't to call it luck that you were free to come just now, but I'm awfully glad you could. This is heaven after Rome."

"And paradise after London. I feel different already. When I think where I was this time yesterday ... and when I think about the rain ... "

I shuddered, and drank my coffee, leaning back in my chair to gaze out across pine tops furry with gold toward the sparkling sea, and surrendering myself to the dreamlike feeling that marks the start of a holiday in a place like this when one is tired and has been transported overnight from the April chill of England to the sunlight of a magic island in the Ionian Sea.

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 nearest, in the north, it is barely two miles off the Albanian mainland, but from the town of Corfu, which is about halfway down the curve of the sickle, the coast of Greece is about seven or eight miles distant. At its northern end the island is broad and mountainous, tailing off through rich valleys and ever decreasing hills into the long, flat scor-pion's tail of the south from which some think that Corfu, or Kerkyra, gets its name.

My sister's house lies some twelve miles north of Corfu town, where the coast begins its curve toward the mainland, and where the foothills of Mount Pantokrator provide shelter for the rich little pocket of land which has been part of her husband's family property for a good many years.

My sister Phyllida is three years older than I, and when she was twenty she married a Roman banker, Leonardo Forli. His family had settled in Corfu during the Venetian occupation of that island, and had managed somehow to survive the various subsequent "occupations" with their small estate more or less intact, and had even, like the Vicar of Bray, contrived to prosper. It was under the British Protectorate that Leo's great-grandfather had built the pretentious and romantic Castello dei Fiori in the woods above the little bay where the estate runs down to the sea. He had planted vineyards, and orange orchards, including a small plantation (if that is the word) of the Japanese miniature oranges called koùm koyàt for which the Forli estate later became famous. He even cleared space in the woods for a garden, and built -- beyond the southern arm of the bay and just out of sight of the Castello -- a jetty and a vast boathouse, which (according to Phyllida) would almost have housed the Sixth Fleet, and had indeed housed the complicated flock of vessels in which his guests used to visit him. In his day, I gathered, the Castello had been the scene of one large and continuous house party: in summer they sailed and fished, and in the fall there were hunting parties, when thirty or so guests would invade the Greek and Albanian mainlands to harry the birds and ibexes.

But those days had vanished with the first war, and the family moved to Rome, though without selling the Castello, which remained, through the twenties and thirties, their summer home. The shifting fortunes of the Second World War almost destroyed the estate, but the Forlis emerged in postwar Rome with the family fortunes mysteriously repaired, and the then Forli Senior -- Leo's father -- turned his attention once more to the Corfu property. He had done something to restore the place, but after his death three years ago his son had decided that the Castello's rubbed and faded splendors were no longer for him, and had built a pair of smallish modern villas -- in reality twin bungalows -- on the two headlands enclosing the bay of which the Castello overlooked the center. He and Phyllida themselves used the Villa Forli, as they called the house on the northern headland; its twin, the Villa Rotha, stood to the south of the bay, above the creek where the boathouse was. The Villa Rotha had been rented by an Englishman, a Mr. Manning, who had been there since the previous autumn working on a book ("you know the kind," said my sister, "all photographs, with a thin trickle of text in large type, but they're good") ...

This Rough Magic. Copyright © by Mary Stewart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2006

    thronyhold

    i am amazed that when writing about mary stewart no one mentions her book 'thronyhold'. By far one of her better books. A very understated but quietly entertaining book. romantic and haunting.i can read this book over and over, and have done so throughout the years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2006

    Another Good One...

    I've just finished reading this for the first time and it won't be the last. I have to admit that it wasn't as good as 'Wildfire at Midnight' or 'The Moonspinners' but maybe I just like the lead better in those. The story was gripping, I really couldn't put it down, I just had find out how it all turned out even though I knew since it is Mary Stewart it would end well, it was fantastic.

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    Posted August 4, 2009

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    Posted September 3, 2009

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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