This week’s Top Ten Tuesday subject from The Broke and the Bookish is a Summer Reads Freebie, encouraging bloggers to make a list of favourite summer/beach reads. I am twisting this a little, from beach reads to beaches in reads. Unsurprisingly, since regular readers will know that my blog is all about the writer Mary Stewart (1916-2014), by beaches in reads I mean beaches in Mary Stewart novels. I am limiting this post to five beaches.
1. Camasunary Bay, Scotland: Let’s start by joining Gianetta on Skye in Wildfire at Midnight, for a look at a remote and majestic beach. She is heading by boat to stay at the (fictional) Camasunary Hotel on real-life Camasunary Bay. The boat moves
across the shining sea-loch towards the distant bay of Camasunary.
Nothing could have been more peaceful. The sea-loch itself was one huge bay, an inlet of the Atlantic, cradled in the crescent of the mountains. The fishing-village of Elgol, backed by its own heather hills, was within one tip of the crescent; from the other soared sheer from the sea a jagged wall of mountains, purple against the sunset sky.
2. Marseille, France: In March I explored some of the locations in Mary Stewart’s first novel, Madam, Will You Talk?, including Avignon, Nimes, and Marseille, leading to this post on Marseille. Charity drives there:
Before me the road sank in an interminable and gentle hill towards the enormous untidy sprawl of Marseilles, set on the edge of the loveliest shore in the world.
The shore here is likely to be warmer and sunnier than the shore of Camasunary Bay! And there are vibrantly busy beaches within the city boundaries, like this one:
3. Moila, Scotland: In the novel Stormy Petrel, Rose holidays on the fictional island of Moila in the Scottish Hebrides, described as reached by ferry after Mull but before Coll and Tiree. This beach may not exist in real life but it sounds amazing:
There was the long, gentle curve of milk-white sand, backed by a sea of turquoise and pale jade and indigo. There were the far cliffs, violet-shadowed as any classical landscape. And for the four miles of the flat coastline, between the white beach and the green slope of the moor, stretched the wild-flower meadow that in Gaelic is the machair.
Here is a Tiree beach, to give us a general idea of beaches in this area.Embed from Getty Images
4. The sea, Agios Georgios hotel, on the southern coast of Crete: this is the setting for The Moon-Spinners, with the action of the novel split between mountainside and coast.
Embed from Getty Images
In the distance, above their gold-rimmed bases, the cliffs towered, charcoal-black. Below them, the sea lay in indigo shadow, warmed, where the sun still touched it, to a deep shimmering violet. The flat rocks near the hotel, lying full in the lingering light, were the colour of anemones. The ice-daisies had shut, and the mats of leaves that covered the rocks looked dark, like seaweed. The wind had changed with evening, and a light breeze blew off-shore, ruffling the water.
5. The bay at the Forli estate, Corfu: In This Rough Magic, this unnamed bay is about 12 miles north of Corfu Town, and its beach forms part of an estate that Lucy’s sister has married into.
The bay was small and sheltered, a sickle of pure white sand holding back the aquamarine sea, and held in its turn by the towering backdrop of cliff and pine and golden-green trees.
Here is a photo of a Corfu beach which indicates how our little bay might look:Embed from Getty Images
I have saved the best for last here because this bay and beach features something very special: there is a dolphin which is in some ways an important character in the book.
Embed from Getty Images
suddenly, not far from my rock, the sea burst apart as if it had been shelled, and the dolphin shot upwards on a deep slant that took him out of the water in a yard-high leap, and down again with a slap of the tail as loud as a cannon-shot. He tore by like a torpedo, to fetch up all standing twenty yards out from my rock, and fix me once again with that bright, humorous eye.
I hope that you have enjoyed these beaches in Mary Stewart novels – do you have a favourite literary beach? Please let me know.