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I first discovered Mary Stewart in high school when I opened up an old box of my mother’s things and found a stack of worn paperbacks. I promptly stole them — they still hold a place of honor on my shelves.
Stewart passed away this year at the impressive age of 97, and I reread my favorite of her books, This Rough Magic, recently as a private memorial. I was reminded yet again just how amazing she was.
Many of her novels are set on the Greek Isles, and her vivid descriptions made me feel like I’d been there long before I actually visited — her books were a large part of the inspiration for my trip.
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Mary Stewart pioneered the romantic suspense genre — which is a blend of mystery and romance — and her heroines are remarkably likable and competent. Her novel The Moon Spinners was adapted into a movie with the same title in 1964, starring Hayley Mills. Her books are quick reads, and perfect for passing time in the airport or in the car on the way to your vacation, and they’re ideal beach reads. Stewart also wrote a series of historical fantasy novels that retell the Arthurian legend from Merlin’s point of view — I’m adding them to my to-read pile as we speak.
Mary Stewart was an inspiration, and I hope that someday I can be half the writer that she was.
“The story comes first and is served first … These novels are light, fast-moving stories which are meant to give pleasure, and where the bees in the writer’s bonnet are kept buzzing very softly indeed. I am first and foremost a teller of tales, but I am also a serious-minded woman who accepts the responsibilities of her job, and that job, if I am to be true to what is in me, is to say with every voice at my command: ‘We must love and imitate the beautiful and the good.” — Mary Stewart, 1916-2014.
+ You can check out a selection of her quotes here and her publisher-provided profile here.
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