This Rough Magic, Mary Stewart, William Morrow, 1964, 254 pp
I am not generally a reader of romance novels but romance has been popping up often in my reading lately. With Mary Stewart, at least in the six of her novels I have read so far, romance is guaranteed along with a mystery that her heroine just happens to fall into. Improbable heroic and dangerous acts in the vein of James Bond are also expected.
This Rough Magic, at #9 on the 1964 bestseller list, is rife with all of the above. It is set in contemporary 1960s Greece where the Trojan War and the journey of Odysseus are ancient history but where communism just across the border in Albania and the unpredictable Greek character, never ancient, combine to make two deaths in as many days look suspicious.
Lucy Waring, a minor actress from London, comes to Corfu to visit her very pregnant sister, wife of a stupendously wealthy Italian. She has come for a break and to provide company for her sister while the husband is away on business. I don't remember how the Italian came to own a castle as well as a villa on the island, but the castle is currently rented to Sir Julian Gale, a famous Shakespearean actor from the London stage, who is recovering from a mysterious illness.
Sir Julian has a bad tempered but handsome son, Max, living with him. Do you see where this is going? I sure did. Have I mentioned there is also a dolphin in the story? Well, there is. Lucy and Max fall in love while rescuing the dolphin who gets blown onto the beach in a storm and can't get back to the water.
To top it all off, Sir Julian is fond of reciting lines from The Tempest and even has a theory about Corfu being the setting for the play. Hence the title.
It was in truth a fun read as are all of Mary Stewart's books. Max and Lucy solve both crimes.