Friday's Forgotten Books - This Rough Magic - In Reference to Murder

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April 08, 2011


Patti Abbott

She was an early favorite. Time to revisit her.

J F Norris

Confession: I read Mary Stewart's books when I was a teenager. Probably the only boy in my town in the 1970s who did. My Mom was an old Book-of-the-Month Club subscriber and our house had shelves lined with hundreds of books from the 1950s and early 1960s. Several of Stewart's books were included: The Airs Above the Ground, (learned all about the Lippizaner horses) The Moon-Spinners, (better than the Haley Mills movie), Touch Not The Cat. That last one was from the 70s.

She was the leading writer of this modern Neo-Gothic. And she was much better than Phyllis Whitney who was terribly formulaic. She sure got the setting aspect nailed down. And guess what? I found a pile of her early books just last year at an estate sale (all 1st editions with the wonderful Charles Geer cover art) and bought every last one of them in a fit of nostalgia.

Thanks for bringing her out of the guilty pleasure closet, so to speak. She really was a leader in this genre way back when.

BV Lawson

I found that this particular Stewart book has aged well and doesn't feel particularly out of place in today's world, except for some of the political background (Albania). Her sense of place and setting are quite fun to read, and the suspense angle was handled very well -- even though I guessed the culprit fairly early on, she built the suspense throughout the book in layers that do make it a "page turner" regardless. I don't think the "romantic suspense" category fits this one, actually. It's less easily classifiable.


Great choice, BV! I read all the Mary Stewart books I could get my hands on, once upon a time. My favorite, I think, was NINE COACHES WAITING. But, in general, I loved them all. I still remember the pleasure I got from reading these books. In fact, my Forgotten Choice today was another of these Grande Dames of the 'Gothic': Phyllis Whitney.

I loved the cover of THIS ROUGH MAGIC - it hinted at the special nature of the book.

BV Lawson

Like the other comments from folks today, I had forgotten about Stewart, even though Mom had many of her books available when I was growing up. I was going through the list of Edgar nominees and winners, and that's when I thought of her books again. I really was pleasantly surprised at how well her writing had aged (unlike some of the other FFB books I've covered in the past). Wish I could say the same for me!

Naomi Johnson

This was always one of my favorites of Stewart's books. I've never stopped wanting to see Corfu because of it. Haven't made it yet, but someday.

BV Lawson

Same here, Naomi! I've always wanted to visit the areas around Greece, and this made me want to include Corfu on the list. Maybe some day...

Richard R.

This is one of those books - there is one every week or three - that I see on FFB and think "But it's not forgotten!". Not by me, that is. Nice to see this one, and your review of it. It's still on my shelf, or will be once the hardcovers come out of the boxes... but that's another story.

I like her Authurian books too.

George Kelley

Like Rick, I'm a big fan of Mary Stewart's Arthurian books. I haven't read everything Mary Stewart ever wrote, but I've liked everything I've read by her.

BV Lawson

Several of the books I've featured aren't exactly "forgotten," I agree, Rick. More like "recently neglected" or as you say, just on the back shelf to make way for the newer books.

BV Lawson

You know, George, I haven't read the Arthurian books yet, either, although some reviewers have said they're "better." I wish my current TBR pile weren't so huge and people wouldn't keep writing so many good new books and that I had more time (a lot more time) to read. Sigh.

Katherine Tomlinson

I love her books shamelessly, particularly the Arthurian books. And (sigh) Moonspinners.

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