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This Rough Magic

Narrated by: Helen Johns
Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)
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Summary

The pioneer of romantic suspense, Mary Stewart leads her listeners on a thrilling journey to a Mediterranean island paradise in this tale of mystery, murder and intrigue, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Barbara Pym.  

Lucy Waring, a young, out-of-work actress from London, leaps at the chance to visit her sister for a summer on the island paradise of Corfu, and what's more, a famous but reclusive actor is staying in a villa nearby. But Lucy's hopes for rest and romance are shattered when a body washes up on the beach and she finds herself swept up in a chilling chain of events. 

I shuddered, and drank my coffee, leaning back in my chair to gaze out across pine tops furry with gold towards the sparkling sea, and surrendering myself to the dreamlike feeling that marks the start of a holiday....

©1964 Mary Stewart (P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

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Serendipity... as ever was

Perfect timing. This summer I've been on a Mary Stewart jag, re-reading my favourites, all her stand alone novels from Madam, Will You Talk to Touch Not the Cat. They all stand the test of time, and I've loved revisiting them. My only regret was that none of them had ever been recorded in Audible. There were a few of the later, rather lighter, books but even narrators like Jenny Agutter can't make up for the fact they are abridged.
Then, by chance, I checked again - and there was one of my all time favourites, This Rough Magic, together with Wildfire at Midnight - and it seems Madam, Will You Talk is to follow so hopefully Hodder and Stoughton have commissioned the lot and they will all be new, unabridged recordings. Brilliant...
This is one of her 3 Ionioan based books, often linked with The Moonspinners (set on Crete) and My Brother Michael (set in Delphi) for that reason, but they all stand as separate and it doesn't really matter what order you read them in. The setting isn't that long ago but might seem it to some, no mobile phones or instant e-anything.
It's long been one of my favourites as the characters are all so well drawn, from Lucy herself to Phil, Max and Sir Julian Gale, Godfrey Manning and I've always had a soft spot for the lovely, but surprisingly tough, Adonis. It brings Corfu to life as well but sadly I'm sure if I went to some of the quiet fishing villages described, they'd be very different today. Great story ... has everything from tension and mystery to humour to romance as all Mary Stewart's books do, and is still gripping after several re-reads over many years, but no spoilers.
The links to The Tempest are interesting but it isn't necessary to know Shakespeare to enjoy the book. If you do know and love the play it certainly adds another dimension, and the 'this rough magic' speech, in the hands of the right actor, could reduce anyone to tears. (|My vote would go to Roger Allum at The Globe).
I wasn't entirely sure about Helen John's voice at first, she seemed a bit wavery at the outset but it soon grew on me and I really enjoyed having this old favourite read out loud.
Now moving on to Wildfire at Midnight on Skye, and so looking forward to the rest as they are published...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Lovely performance

A beautiful reading of a charming story, very nostalgic! The characters were wonderfully distinct in this reading and the atmosphere was gorgeously illustrated. I’d recommend it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Prospero's Isle

A wonderful story telling of redemption and renewal of a widower once seeking solace in a bottle who finds the courage to stay true to his art. The two love stories are sympathetically told and the Island comes alive on the pages. Mary Stewart is a wonderful story-teller I wish more of her books were available to listen to.

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Beautifully read

I’ve read the book a few times but Helen Johns brought all the characters to life. May Stewart is a wonderful writer and her descriptions of places make me want to visit them but I’ve found that Helen’s narration has highlighted things I missed when reading myself.
I loved it!

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  • Susan
  • 02-08-18

PERFECT BEACH READ, rediscovered

I first read This Rough Magic around the time I was studying Shakespeare as an English major, nearly 50 years ago, and I had forgotten what a good writer Mary Stewart was. Finding several of her books as I scrolled through auduble’s new releases piqued my interest and for some reason this title jumped out as the one to try first. Great choice!

The story involves Lucy Waring, the first-person narrator, a young actress whose first big role was a flop; Sir Julian Gale, an acclaimed actor who has gone into seclusion; Julian’s son Max, an aloof musician; a friendly dolphin; a raft of local Greek characters and the main character of the story — the island of Corfu. Oh, to summer in a fully-staffed villa on a Greek isle! What else could we possibly need?

Romance and murder, of course. And no one has ever combined the two any better than Mary Stewart.

The title is from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Sir Julian Gale and Lucy both know the play well (British stage actors, remember) and they reference it often throughout the book. This is a lot of fun for those familiar with the play, but all of the references are explained in context so lack of familiarity won’t spoil your enjoyment.

Written in the mid-1960s, the novel holds up amazingly well. Those of us who were alive then just shift ourselves back in time. For younger listeners, the idyllic island setting creates such a sense of seclusion that you won’t miss cell phones or the internet. Part of Stewart’s enduring charm is her ability to create an atmosphere through her character’s reactions to their physical surroundings. By the end of the book you will feel like you have visited a Greek island — and you’ll want to book a trip to one immediately!

And I can’t imagine how the narration could have been any better. Actress Helen Johns (you may have seen her recently as Eliza Barry in the TV series “Anne with an E”) brings Lucy fully to life.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • sharon
  • 11-09-18

Mary Stewart Classic

I am so glad audible is releasing one of my favorite authors of all time! This is such a great well written mystery from a MASTER writer ! I hope the rest of her books will follow Especially my 3 favorites" Airs Above The Ground", "Moon Spinners",
and "My Brother Michael" No one compares to MS. The narration was perfect.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ellen
  • 12-08-18

Delighted that this is available in audio again!

How delightful that this treasure is available in audio format again. How I have missed listening to it. My poor audio-tapes of Jane Asher's narration are not in good shape any more, and digital format is so convenient for listening to while doing household tasks.

I do hope that all Mary Stewart's early novels will be re-issued in audio format again.

This is a lovely evocative novel set in an enchanted place, in a time not so very distant, when the turmoil and tensions of the Cold War cast shadows even over the sunny island of Corfu. Even over Miss Lucy Waring's innocent holiday with her sister...

Helen Johns does an excellent narration, with all the voices clear and distinct. I will look out for other audio-books narrated by her.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jenny
  • 12-08-18

Sensational!

Mary Stewart only writes masterpieces, and this is one of them. The performance was thrilling, even musical. Fantastic!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Shipp
  • 03-10-18

As enchanting now as it was all those years ago

I was thrilled to find an unabridged audio version of one of my Mary Stewart favorites! It was wonderful to revisit a time gone by and memories of old. I will add my voice to the bring on more. I've already pre-ordered "Madam Will You Talk?". Please bring back more, especially "My Brother Michael", "The Moon-Spinners" and "Airs Above the Ground", if you cannot do them all!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Debra Newby
  • 15-11-18

One of my favorite books

I have read this many times. It is a wonderful story. #Suspenseful #FeelGood #Tagsgiving #Sweepstakes

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert D.
  • 02-10-18

Such a pleasure

I have been waiting for years for the Mary Stewart "adventure romances" to be on tape. This is an excellent book, and I really enjoyed the narrator. Will listen to it many times. More please!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Judy Solberg
  • 17-09-18

Classic romantic suspense revived.

it's wonderful to have the Mary Stewart books in audio. This homage to Shakespeare's Tempest is as exciting now as when I first read it in the 1970s.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • "sukey67"
  • 13-09-18

Audible needs more Mary Stewart!

The master of romantic suspense. More of her works are needed here! Please add more such as The Moonspinners , The Ivy Tree, and Nine Coaches Waiting!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • topcatrules
  • 01-09-18

Pure magic!

This Rough Magic has long been a favorite of mine but the audio version brings it even further to life.
Excellent narration by Helen Johns.
Superb story set in the enchanting isle of Corfu. Not to be missed! Highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful