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My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart
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My Brother Michael (original 1959; edition 1962)

by Mary Stewart

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6451014,980 (3.85)33
Member:InigoMontoya
Title:My Brother Michael
Authors:Mary Stewart
Info:Sevenoaks: Coronet Books, 1962, c1960 254 p. ; 18 cm.
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:Main, Fiction

Work details

My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart (1959)

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  1. 00
    Death in Berlin by M. M. Kaye (Herenya)
    Herenya: Mid 20th century; overseas holidays disrupted by murder. Although the tone of the mystery differs in each, they both feature characters called Simon who have a lot in common...
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» See also 33 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This was my first Mary Stewart, and I must say I did enjoy it. We're in a sort of female Eric Ambler world, here, without the politics: Europe in the 1950s, with the War looming large in the collective memory; this plot, though, is wholly personal.

Told from the point of view of the accidental heroine, the story gets off to a rather tediously drawn-out start (perhaps it's just old fashioned, this idea that driving a car is such a big deal!), but soon gathers a pretty good momentum, picking up some nicely unpleasant characters on the way. I loved the whole mental landscape: pure young James Mason as directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Greece in general, and Delphi in particular, are rendered beautifully, and credibly. Apollo, too, makes a welcome appearance. ( )
  jtck121166 | Sep 17, 2013 |
I don't think there's much new to say about any of these Mary Stewart books that I didn't say about all the others. They're a little bit of a guilty pleasure with me, but hey, female heroines, mostly decent male leads (I think Simon miiight be my favourite thus far, given his calmness, intelligence, and careful treatment of the protagonist, plus the fact that he's not related to her, doesn't laugh at her, and trusts her), mysteries... Not always quite so cosy, really, since this one involves a surprising body count. Love the descriptions of Greece, especially Delphi; Mary Stewart is no slouch when it comes to depicting the atmosphere of a place.

Not entirely surprising, at any point, and I'm not sure I ever dare to think about these books critically in terms of colonialism and the like. But if you like Mary Stewart's work in general, you'll like this. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Camilla is a teacher travelling around Greece. A case of mistaken identity means she's handed the keys to a car wanted urgently by a man in Delphi, and as she's unable to find the intended driver - and is desperate to go to Delphi - she drives the car there herself. Along the way she meets Simon - also a Classics teacher - who is investigating the circumstances of his brother's death during WWII.

The appeal of My Brother Michael is how it depicts a time and a place: Greece in the 1950s. It becomes an atmospheric setting for a tense mystery - more of a thriller than a murder mystery.
Mary Stewart's use of language and attention to detail is vivid and evocative; she effectively captures the landscape, the food, the personalities and mannerisms of her characters, and incorporates references to Greek mythology. I love how Stewart's heroines (generally) have an appreciation of poetry and literature.

The other thing I love the subtlety of the growing romance, which Camilla is not really ready to openly acknowledge. (They really haven't known each other that long. And Camilla has just broken things off with her former fiancé, so she has good reason to be cautious.)
But there are these ambiguous moments of conversation which elude to the - the romance, if you will. It's all very understated and all the more convincing in consequence.

This time, rereading it, I found myself wondering whether there were the out-dated, sexist overtones to their relationship - manly, capable (physically fit and attractive) man rescues damsel in distress, because women are weak and men have a responsibility to rescue them, etc. I concluded that while Camilla and Simon both reflect the attitudes of their era - he holds open car doors for her and so on - this novel does not propagate problematic gender relationships. Their adventures are a team-effort which allow Camilla to prove she's courageous and resourceful, and allow Simon to demonstrate that he's understanding and is not going to leave her at home to get on with her knitting. And she gets to rescue him, before the end. (I discuss this in more detail here).

This is amongst my favourites of Stewart's novels. ( )
1 vote Herenya | Dec 9, 2012 |
Camilla Haven, a young classics teacher at an English girls’ school, is on vacation in Greece, seeing the sights and trying to forget about her ex-fiancé Philip. She is just bemoaning the fact that nothing ever happens to her when an adventure lands in her lap: a stranger approaches her in a café and gives her the keys to a car which, he says, is urgently needed in Delphi by a man named Simon on “a matter of life and death.” Not knowing what to do, Camilla eventually decides to drive the car to Delphi herself and deliver it to Simon. Little does she know that this seemingly unimportant act will entangle her with a decades-old murder, a cache of treasure, and imminent danger to her own life.

Once again, this novel sticks pretty close to the Mary Stewart formula: a young woman in a strange country becomes involved in some sort of peril or mystery, meeting a handsome man in the process. In this case the book is set in Greece, and I found the descriptions of the country fascinating, if a little long-winded at times. The atmosphere of the story, especially the allusions to Greek history and mythology, really helped to heighten the suspense. There’s no particular mystery about the book, though, as it’s immediately obvious who the good guys and the bad guys are. I also found the romance a bit unsatisfying; though it’s developed throughout the book, it never really comes to fruition, in my opinion. Still, I always enjoy Stewart’s books, and this one was no exception.
  christina_reads | May 7, 2012 |
I love this book. I am reading it for the third or fourth time. I want to wrap myself up in the evocative prose and the strong sense of place and time (one which is lost to the past, and has been taken over by tourism and a faster pace of life.) I love Stewart's characterisation: how you can you not fall in love with her heroes? I have only 60 pages left to read and want to draw them out like a long, cool drink, tasting and savouring every scene in exquisite detail. One not to be rushed. ( )
  joannagawn | Jan 20, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Stewartprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kopperi, Pauli A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If you do not love the Greeks, you cannot love anything. Rex Warner.
Dedication
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Nothing ever happens to me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
ONLY A MOMENT BEFORE

Camilla Haven is on holiday alone, and wishes for some excitement. She had been sitting quietly in a crowded Athens cafe writing to her friend Elizabeth in England, "Nothing ever happens tome..."

Then, without warning, a stranger approached, thrust a set of car keys at her and pointed to a huge black touring car parked at the curb. "The car for Delphi, mademoiselle... A matter of life and death," he whispered and disappeared.

From that moment Camilla her life suddenly begins to take off when she sets out on a mysterious car journey to Delphi in the company of a charming but quietly determined Englishman named Simon Lester. Simon told Camilla he had come to the ancient Greek ruins to "appease the shade” of his brother Michael, killed some fourteen years earlier on Parnassus. From a curious letter Michael had written, Simon believed his brother had stumbled upon something of great importance hidden in the craggy reaches of the mountainside. And then Simon and Camilla learned that they were not alone in their search...

The ride was Camilla's first mistake... or perhaps she unintentionally had invoked the gods. She finds herself in the midst of an exciting, intriguing, yet dangerous adventure. An extraordinary train of events turned on a nightmare of intrigue and terror beyond her wildest daydreams.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380820757, Mass Market Paperback)

Nothing ever happened to Camilla Haven -- until a stranger approached her in a crowded Athens café, handed her the keys to a black car parked by the curb,and whispered, "A matter of life and death."

The ride was Camilla's first mistake...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

While traveling in Greece, a young Englishwoman finds herself a pawn in a dangerous game of love and revenge, which comes to a dramatic climax high on Mt. Parnassus.

(summary from another edition)

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