Monday, 14 August 2000

Mary Stewart: My Brother Michael (1960)

Edition: Hodder & Stoughton, 1962
Review number: 571

Background is always important in Mary Stewart's thrillers, and this is particularly the case for My Brother Michael. The plot is broadly the same as it has been in all her novels up to this point, with a normal young woman getting involved in something very unusual. The setting for this novel is Delphi, and the protagonists are both classics teachers; the background is really the incredibly resonant nature of ancient Greek literature. This is conveyed extremely successfully, and makes the novel's atmosphere very similar to Donna Tartt's Secret History.

The strength of the background makes My Brother Michael one of Mary Stewart's best novels. The plot into which Camilla Haven is drawn is particularly suited to the background, an Oresteian tale in which Simon Lester is investigating the mysterious death of his elder brother Michael, SOE operative working with wartime resistance groups in the Delphi area.

This is the Mary Stewart novel in which every ingredient comes together successfully to create a really satisfying whole.

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