Greece is a romantic destination.
Tourism Sunset Sea Santorini Greece Oia Island
Creative Commons Zero - CC0.
One such spot there is the shrine of an oracle, a person who can see the future: Delphi, once thought to be the Navel of the World!
|Kim Bach - Panoramic view of the Apollo Temple in Delphi (The Oracle)|
Delphi is where Camilla Haven, recovering from a breakup, has to drive to, on a strange and urgent request from a man. She is alone, on a holiday in Athens, the capital of Greece. The man approaches her in a café, just as she is writing to a friend that nothing ever happens to her.
|Athens Cafe - CC0 Public Domain|
The man says that she must rush to Delphi and that a car is ready for her. Left with no choice, she dives headlong into adventure. Along the way, a Simon Lester becomes her traveling partner. He wants to find out how his brother, Michael, died in Delphi during World War Two.
Now that we have a car, what more can we expect from Mary Stewart than some dare devilry in driving. Indeed, here, the heroine is in a foreign country and has only recently learned to drive. Now, Greek driving behaviour is shown to be something of the sort we can expect in India and so you can well imagine what to expect. Humour and thrills go well together and we enjoy how she has a bus in front that will not get out of the way, just as if there was one of those Haryana Roadways drivers at the wheel. If that is not enough then she is overtaken by a lady driver. One who looks exactly like her.
Add to dangerous driving a bunch of some really scary villains. And a handsome, man-of-action hero. A sure formula for entertainment. However, a Mary Stewart is not only fun but good stuff for the mind.
My Brother Michael is rich with quotes from Greek classics. And the hero is familiar with these classics
Not only is the book rich with reference to Greek mythology, which has excellent stories, and descriptions of the beautiful terrain, it is also a quick way to get an idea of the history of the region.
We learn what became of such a world capital of culture, and what it was like there in the Second World War. During that war, many European countries suffered greatly under invasions. Of course, there were freedom fighters in Greece but there were also traitors. And, it was because of betrayal that Simon's brother, Michael, died during the War.
Just as in many other novels by Stewart, we do not know whom to trust. Camilla is alone, though with a new-found handsome and highly educated male companion, and she is very short of money. Grab the book and read on to find out what happens!
My Brother Michael is one of my favourite Mary Stewarts. I suppose I enjoyed it all the more because I was reading Gerald and Lawrence Durrell. Gerald's famous My Family and Other Animals is set in Greece as are some of his brother's more serious and less enjoyable books. Also, in the days when I came across the novels of Mary Stewart, Zorba the Greek was being screened in India.
Reading the book I could imagine doing Greek dances amidst olive groves and Greek ruins.
Besides all these treats, Mary Stewart also offers us delightful descriptions of the country's food and drink.
Perhaps, these places and happenings appear distant to us in space and time, but the more we know about the world the better it is for us in countless ways. We can enjoy many more things than if we only drank at the fountain of our own culture. We become comfortable with global thought and culture and this makes us better placed as ambassadors of our own culture.
"I think the secret is that it belongs to all of us ... We've learned to think in its terms, and to live in its laws. It's given us almost everything that our world has that is worth while. Truth, straight thinking, freedom, beauty. It's our second language, our second line of thought, our second country. We all have our own country ~~ and Greece."