Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “This Rough Magic” as Want to Read:
This Rough Magic
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

This Rough Magic

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  7,031 ratings  ·  503 reviews
When Lucy Waring's sister Phyllida suggests that she join her for a quiet holiday on the island of Corfu, young English Lucy is overjoyed. Her work as an actress has temporarily come to a halt. She believes there is no finer place to be "at liberty" than the sun-drenched isle of Corfu, the alleged locale for Shakespeare's The Tempest. Even the suspicious actions of the han ...more
Paperback, 373 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by HarperTorch (first published 1953)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about This Rough Magic, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lee Yes!! Every time I read one, I ask this exact same question. They are all perfect for adaptation, especially in the 50s/60s!
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Lindsay It saves her life by helping her to shore and the last line of the book is a glimpse of it in the distance, so no it doesn't!…moreIt saves her life by helping her to shore and the last line of the book is a glimpse of it in the distance, so no it doesn't!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,031 ratings  ·  503 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of This Rough Magic
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
It's the 1960s, and Lucy Waring, a rather unsuccessful young British actress (played here in my imaginary movie by Natalie Wood)
has traveled to Corfu, an island off the coast of Greece, to visit her sister when her London play closes after only a two-month run. If you have to hide somewhere to lick your wounds, Corfu is the place to do it.

Lucy get to swim in their private bay, play with a friendly dolphin:

. . . trade lines from Shakespeare with one of the most famous actors in Great Britain,
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime, gothic
4.5 stars

"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 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."

I won’t make it to Corfu this summer, or anytime soon for that matter, so I have Mary Stewart to thank for my latest
mark monday
the island of Corfu is golden, blue skies overhead and sandy beaches underfoot, light playing on the sea's surface. its waters have strange moods and deliver surprising gifts: a playful dolphin, treasure of a sort, and a body swept to its shores, bashed and broken. the island of Corfu is a romantic place! where better to find adventure and mystery, espionage and murder, passionate embraces. Mary Stewart fully commits to this lovely location, her descriptions vivid and clear, her affection and re ...more
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the last Mary Stewart 'group read' which I did for Madam, Will You Talk?, I decided to cast the book as a movie, picking glamorous stars from the fifties. Hannah asked if I would do that again for this book, so here it is! Yay! I hope you enjoy it.

Now casting this book was a little bit trickier then for MWYT, since This Rough Magic is supposed to take place 1964. I couldn’t use the cast from the last book. They weren’t young enough. And as always, they had to be British, since This Rough Ma
May 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pleasure-reading
How to create the perfect romantic suspense novel:
1. select a stirring and exotic setting, like the isle of Corfu in Greece, with caves and hidden grottos.
2. conjure up a castle in somewhat spotty repair
3. add a plucky but somewhat naive heroine and a disdainful and gorgeous hero.
4. mix in a few blood-chilling dangers (with sports cars and fancy boats)
5. weave in a dolphin and a Persian cat.

Then put all these ingredients into the hands of a wordsmith extraordinaire, and voila, you have a story t
Oct 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

First published in 1964, this novel is set on the Greek island of Corfu, where out-of-work English actress Lucy Waring goes to stay with her sister, whose wealthy husband’s family owns an estate on the island. There she becomes embroiled in a mystery involving reclusive actor Sir Julian Gale, his brusque son Max, photographer Godfrey Manning, diverse islanders , a cute cat and a very appealing dolphin.

The title is a quote from Act V Scene I of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Prospero decides to give
It's been a great personal pleasure to pull out copies of my Mary Stewart books and read them again with some of my GR friends as group reads. This Rough Magic has long been one that I had fond memories of reading several decades ago, but as every reader knows, sometimes time (and maturity) has a way of changing our perceptions of books we enjoyed when younger. Thankfully, my fond memories of this novel remain fond; This Rough Magic is just as magical, just as suspenseful and just as enjoyable a ...more
Debbie Zapata
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020printbooks
Every so often when I read Mary Stewart I say to myself that I have found a new favorite title. (Well, favorite after Airs Above The Ground, which will always be number one in my barn.) But anyway, I have to say that this book is now definitely my new favorite.

Set on the island of Corfu, this was such a fast-paced story that I could barely keep up with myself while reading it. And I am suffering a bit just now from lack of sleep since I simply HAD to get to the end last night!

As usual, Stewart b
Bionic Jean
This Rough Magic is a novel by Mary Stewart, which was first published in 1964. Mary Stewart’s novels are generally classed as romantic suspense, or mystery thrillers with a dash of romance. This Rough Magic is typical fare from this author: escapist, suspenseful, occasionally melodramatic and beautifully descriptive:

“The trickle of the falling stream was cool and lovely, and light spangled down golden through the young oak leaves. A bird sang somewhere, but only one. The woods were silent, stre
I first found this at my grandmothers as a kid, and it holds up as pretty much any Mary Stewart book does. She was the master of romantic suspense. My four star rating may be partly due to nostalgia.

This one takes place on Corfu in the mid 50s, and the story and the location are immersed in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s as much an introduction to the island as it is a mystery/suspense. This book and My Family and Other Animals give a such a beautiful glimpse of what sounds like a gorgeous isla
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
2020 Review
I thought I loved this book for the dolphin scene so when I re-read it and didn't find it quite as romantic as I had built it up in my head, I felt some disappointment. But then I kept reading and I just adored the last quarter of the story. It is Lucy against the villain; Lucy against the elements; Lucy saving herself and saving the day. It is action packed and delightful. Despite the fact that it took me a bit to get into my re-read, I think this one remains my favorite Stewart.

Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I discovered what a wonderful writer Mary Stewart was – not so many years ago, though my mother had recommended her books many years earlier – I have come to love her writing and I have traveled to many wonderful places by book, in the company of a captivating band of heroines.

I have been to the Pyrenees, to a Scottish island, to a French Chateau, to Delphi, to the heart of the English countryside, to Vienna, to a palace in the Lebanon ....

So many grand adventures.

My latest adventure, that
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mary Stewart created the romantic thriller genre and here she is at the top of her game. There is so much to like here: a magnificent setting on the Ionian island of Corfu, magical scenes and descriptions, a great plot and splendid pacing; but what I love best about this book is its heroine, actress Lucy Waring...and, of course, the dolphin.

description/><br /><br />To get back to Lucy -- she is older than many of Mary Stewart's protagonists. She has a career and, while she is just starting out, she clearly approaches her work with professionalism and intelligence--and with no whining about the lack of money or plays folding. She's incredibly well read and knows her Shakespeare backwards and forwards. She is observant, self-aware, alert to the slightest nuance in vocal tone and expression--qualities that reflect her training, but that also bode well for a long and productive career. <br /><br />Lucy loves people and animals and can't help but spring into action to rescue everything from baby birds to beached dolphins. She is fierce in her defense of the helpless and hurt, and never lets fear get the better of her. She has a wonderfully healthy, loving relationship with her sister and a natural gift for making friends.<br /><br />Yes, of course she falls in love in the book, but she doesn't need her man to defend her, she just swings into action and naturally (and correctly) assumes that her beloved will be a partner just as caring, decisive, resourceful and courageous as she is.<br /><br />Click on the comments to see some of my favorite plot points illustrated with photos of actual Corfu locations!
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
This was the first book I read by MS and I found out about it bec someone on my Flist is in the MS group as a mod, I think.

I fell in love with MS's wonderful, lush descriptions of outdoor scenery of Corfu and its festivals.

Reading these were truly a sensory experience. My senses of sight and smell were fully engaged as I read this book. She managed to create images in my minds eye wo the use of the Internet for research.

I wasn't that impressed with the romance though. It seemed to come out of n
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Mary Stewart makes literary references feel like affection instead of affectation. That's a neat trick. Most writers can't pull it off. It feels like she's indulging herself - sitting on a hillside veranda over the ocean in one of those flappy gauzy robe things that women wear on vacations. Much of the book has that feeling: like she went on a vacation to Corfu, a Greek island, and almost accidentally turned a book out while she was there. You picture her ambling down with a glass of wine. "Me? ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
So so charming. You know a book is good when you find yourself smiling while reading it. The rose garden, the friendly dolphin, the white Persian cat, and the exciting motorcycle ride along the Corfu coast. What's not to like? ...more
This is my 5th Mary Stewart read and I’m still utterly in love with her.

Okay, my cynical heart will admit she sticks to a strict formula. But she does it so well, I don’t care.

Our heroine this time is Lucy, a theatre actress who finally got the lead in a play only to have it be a dud. Licking her wounds, she escapes London to travel to Corfu, where her wealthy sister resides. Expecting peace and tranquility, Lucy instead gets wrapped up in murder.

Stewart’s descriptive passages are, as usual, su
Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, romance, mystery
This was exactly what I needed after handing in my dissertation yesterday. Adventures and romance with a touch of danger, but where you're pretty sure it'll turn out okay in the end, and if you've read any Mary Stewart at all, you know it'll end with a wedding. There's your usual plucky heroine, a couple of potential love interests, and the usual exotic setting, this time in Corfu, and this time laced with Shakespeare -- which might put some people off, because I don't tend to like books that tr ...more
Connie G
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, mystery, greece
I remember reading some Mary Stewart romantic suspense novels when I was in my late teens, and they were the perfect escape after a week of exams. Her plots move quickly, even if some elements are improbable, so her books are hard to put down. I also enjoy the beautiful settings and the Gothic atmosphere of her stories.

"This Rough Magic" is set in Corfu, a Greek island that lies close to the closed Communist country of Albania in the 1960s. Lucy, a likable young British actress, is spending time
"Here was I, Lucy Waring, being asked into the water for a game."

This Rough Magic follows the usual Mary Stewart formula - exotic setting (Corfu), heroine in peril, hero who doesn't seem like a hero at first and of course a rocking good mystery to be solved.

"The body was lying half in, half out, of the largest patch of shadow."

Despite being a bit dated (loved all the nylon clothing!), this was a lot of fun, especially the last 100 or so pages that were pretty darn near unputdownable.

Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly enjoyable read. Just the right amount of intrigue and suspense for a cozy read. The romantic bits might have been a little mawkish but I am willing to overlook that because the rest was so enjoyable.
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Suspense & Gothic lovers
Recommended to Tweety by: Hannah
Another Fiver by Mary Stewart!

Once again I'm opting out of doing a summery as I'd do a lousy job and probably give it all away. So, to begin.

I honesty didn't have a clue what was going on in the first four chapters, and I didn't see or care what The Tempest had to do with anything. But, that aside it was a jolly good read. In fact, it was just as good as I hoped it would be. My only complaint is I knew to some extent what was going to happen. (that didn't spoil my enjoyment, hence the high ra
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plenty of reviews already on offer, it is a Mary Stewart novel after all. Plenty to enjoy with this vintage romantic suspense set on Corfu. Trade mark Mary Stewart with an engaging plot, a "plucky" heroine and a stalwart male lead. Wonderful descriptions of the countryside and a nice touch, the introduction of the dolphin.

Love this author and her novels that I read avidly in my younger years........they never lose their magic.
Stewart is incredible at creating atmosphere. The story takes place on the Greek island of Corfu in the isolated cliff side surroundings of a castle and two villas with a crescent beach in between. You can not read this without feeling as if you are there every step of the way with the protagonist, Lucy. The sounds, the smells, the colors of the flowers, the feel of the water, the breeze are all there. Art, dolphins, mystery, colorful characters, hidden caves, local culture are all brought to li ...more
Martine Bailey
I picked this as my light reading for a holiday in Corfu and came home having decided that Mary Stewart has become my new guilty secret. This was a charming romantic mystery, depicting the island in the unspoilt 1960s, as seen through the eyes of glamorous resting actress Lucy Waring. Naturally she is staying at her brother-in-law’s glamorous cliff top residence and there are a few hunky but sophisticated men around to catch her eye. There is also a mystery element that threatened to be a sort o ...more
When Lucy's sister Phyllida suggests that she join her for a quiet holiday on the island of Corfu, Lucy is overjoyed. Her work as an actress has temporarily come to a halt. But the peaceful idyll does not last long. A series of incidents, seemingly unconnected - but all surrounded in mystery - throws Lucy's life into a dangerous spin, as fear, danger and death - as well as romance - supplant the former tranquillity.

I finally got a Mary Stewart read in this year. I've been slowly working my way
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, mary-stewart
3.5 Stars (Mary Stewart Group Read Sept 2014)

Well I started this a week earlier than I should have (got the dates mixed up) so I'm reviewing when I should just be starting to read. Nevermind. It happens.

I won't write a synopsis, that's been done many times. I'll just say that I enjoyed this, thought it was well written and was fairly gripping toward the end.

I liked the retro references to gold lipstick and nylon clothes which made me think of 60s films (gotta love em! ) and the dolphin was a nic
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's her usual formula, but I couldn't put this book down. Another writer would turn this into a pulpy romance, but Mary Stewart pulls together all the classic elements I love and surrounds them with word magic. It's a lovely read, with the 1960's attitudes and nylon clothes adding to the charm. The protagonist was gutsy, not hung up on herself, and humorous, the descriptions of Corfu were better than a book of travel photos, and the suspense . . . well, I won't put any spoilers in, but if you a ...more

Really 3.5 stars.

This wasn't the best Mary Stewart I've ever read but a slow bland start was more than made up for by an exciting (if slightly implausible) finish. As always the scenery was wonderful and as with her other romantic suspense I've read, it had a real 1950s/60s filmic quality about it. Fluffy but fun, with Shakespearean references thrown in.

And a special thanks to the 'book fairy' who sent me my copy as a present. It was much appreciated.

Buddy read with Kim and lots of others over a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Death in Zanzibar
  • Bride of Pendorric
  • Death in Berlin
  • Death in Kenya
  • Death in Kashmir
  • Ride a Pale Horse
  • Treacherous Estate
  • Death in Cyprus
  • Death in the Andamans
  • The Shivering Sands
  • Hunter's Green
  • Woman Without a Past
  • Stateline (Dan Reno, #1)
  • On the Night of the Seventh Moon
  • The Dead Sea Cipher
  • Mrs. Jeffries Demands Justice (Mrs. Jeffries #39)
  • The Trembling Hills
  • The Enchanted Isle
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Lady Mary Stewart, born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow, was a popular English novelist, and taught at the school of John Norquay elementary for 30 to 35 years.

She was one of the most widely read fiction writers of our time. The author of twenty novels, a volume of poetry, an

Related Articles

Mexican Gothic begins when happily ever after turns into a nightmare. The story unfolds with the Taboada family receiving a mysterious letter from...
142 likes · 23 comments
“I supposed there were circumstances in which it was correct, even praiseworthy, for a girl to bash a man's head in with a lamp while he was kissing her...” 1 likes
More quotes…