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3.0 out of 5 starsPerfectly mediocre read
Reviewed in Canada on July 10, 2020
Not sure what this book wants to be. Not really a mystery, nor a crime novel, nor a thriller, it is a little bit of everything but a master of none.
Mary Stewart's trilogy of books set in Greece are some of her best, particularly in the description of the landscape and the understanding of the political undercurrents underpinning the action - in this case Cold War currency smuggling from Albania.
4.0 out of 5 starsA little dated, but stylish and enjoyable.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2016
Back in the sixties and seventies, I was buying these books as they were being published, and loved them. Some, shabby and with pages brown with age, still live on my bookshelves. I recently reread her Arthurian trilogy - quite superb! - and then this novel came up at a reduced price on Amazon. Perhaps the normal high price of her novels in the kindle format reflect the quality of her writing; the twentieth century certainly produced many excellent writers.
This novel is contemporaneous with the time of writing, so the reader is being drawn back to a time when smoking was considered a sociable habit, drinking alcohol in pregnancy wasn't frowned upon, the word 'marvellous' was still in common use and the heroine was chaste. I found myself wondering what genre this and her other novels fell into. There's usually a death, as in this one, but they don't really amount to murder mysteries. There's romance, but they're certainly not romantic novels. In fact, Mrs Stewart didn't do romance well. In this particular novel, a young woman meets a handsome man and it's a case of dislike at first sight. They barely exchange a civil word - even the uncivil ones are well spaced - until they kiss, which is then a lifelong commitment followed by terms of endearment such as 'darling' and 'my love'.
Then it struck me. They're adventure stories. Like Enid Blyton for grown ups. Strange to think that, when I was first reading them, this didn't occur to me at all.
But I don't mean to belittle them in any way. Mrs Stewart was intelligent and well educated and she wrote with stylish fluency. I intend to make my way through every one of her novels again, and highly recommend them.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2017
I first read Mary Stewart's books when I was a teenager. I sneaked them from my grandmother's bookshelves and felt very grown-up. Re-reading them now, I'm not quite sure why I felt so daring as they have no sex or violence in them. They do, however, have lush descriptions, sexy heroes, feisty heroines and lots of nail-biting suspense.
This one, unfortunately, was a disappointment and I found it quite hard going. It was originally published in 1964 and the dialogue feels dated. The characters spoke with the same 'voice' and as though they'd stepped out of a Famous Five novel. Usually I love Mary Stewart's heroines, but this one was a bit of an idiot - deliberately putting herself in harm's way just to prove a point.
Lucy Waring goes to visit her sister, who has married into the Italian aristocracy and is currently holidaying at her husband's summer residence on Corfu. There are two other houses on the estate - the original castle, now rented by a famous actor, and another villa on the other side of the bay. But Lucy's plans for a relaxing holiday are shattered when she almost gets shot while trying to protect a dolphin, and then a body is washed up on the beach.
The story is very much of its time, so I would hesitate to recommend it to a modern audience. I loved Julian (the reclusive actor) and hearing about the island's saint, Spyridon, but I did find all the Shakespeare references a bit wearing. Extra points for the dolphin though! If you've never read Mary Stewart, I'd recommend starting with one of her others first, such as Nine Coaches Waiting, which is one of my favourites.
4.0 out of 5 starsWell written romance, thriller, corfu guide and it has humour.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 21, 2017
Well written romance, thriller, corfu guide. This being my second Mary Stewart book that I have read I was slightly disappointed as this book doesn't have the same powerful verve that My Brother Michael has. However saying that the book still has humour, a very readable style and was very much a page turner. This book has many references to Shakespeare's - The Tempest which may confuse some readers if they haven't read or are familiar with this work. The book also covers Corfu history & cultural attitudes.
I first picked up 'madam will you talk?' and really enjoyed it. I have now read quite a few of her books and find them a delight.
This one is set in Greece, and makes you feel like you're actually there. What she does with her characters and locations is pure joy. It might come across as a bit dated, but it's a brilliant piece of escapism from yesteryear. If you like her other works, pick this up. You won't be disappointed.
I'm currently rediscovering the joys of Mary Stewart's work, after a long gap. This book is a great example - wonderful descriptive prose evoking the sights, sounds and even smells of the place, a heroine who isn't ashamed to admit to fear, and of course a satisfying ending. It's a pleasure to read a book by such a well educated and articulate woman, who doesn't need to pepper her work with obscenities to keep it interesting.