On a recent “TRASH” trip to St. Louis, I managed to pick up books by two of my childhood — well, young girl in the 60s/70s — favorites: Jane Aiken Hodge and Mary Stewart. Not only did it bring back memories of reading in a sun warmed room, or dusty hideaway, but also memories of adventure outside the farming community I lived.
Mary Stewart brought a sophisticated international world into existence for me, especially with her tale of Greek Isles, Corfu and the dangers of the Cold War. Wildfire at Midnight was one of my first tastes of Greece and I wanted so badly to go and stay in a villa, bronze in the warm sun, swim in the blue seas, and eat olives. Surely the Greek olives were better than the ones stuffed with pimentos and hauled out in the relish dish for big Pennsylvania Dutch dinners at our house. And I understand they even used olive oil, which was definitely NOT an ingredient in our Mennonite/Amish cooking! Ah, what Stewart exposed me to dream about!
The Spell of Mary Stewart is a book club (Nelson, Doubleday) hardback without dust jacket, published in 1968 with three of Stewart’s classics: This Rough Magic,
Wildfire at Midnight, and The Ivy Tree. I wished it had My Brother Michael or Airs Above The Ground but it certainly stirred lots of memories as I read it.
Stewart is a writer to be enjoyed anew and stays fresh over the decades. Even if Corfu is crowded with tourists, the Albanian threat dissipated, This Rough Magic wants me to go re-read The Tempest as well, just so I can do the quotes with aplomb. Ah, the little things that make me happy.
Later I’ll talk about Jane Aiken Hodge, but right now, I’ve got to put together a box of books as payment for the return of my daughter. Her price I’m told is enough sexy contemporary romances to get a new college graduate through the summer. Naked chests of men okay, sexy would be nice (request not to give away all the ones I’ve held for GMR), and contemporary please. That is going to be tough, since most contemporary books don’t feature the naked guys unless they are of the erotica bent, but I’m sure I can find something hanging around, gathering dust.