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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

"Thursbitch" by Alan Garner

 A typical Garner novel, set on a hill in the Pennines (there is a real valley called Thursbitch). 

In the 18th century some farmers celebrate decidedly pagan rites involving bulls, snakes, and the consumption of a fermented brew made from marinated magic mushrooms. Jack, a jagger (pedlar), brings presents to his family, including the girl he has impregnated. Much of this part is written in dialect and sometimes can be very hard to follow. 'Thole' means part of a rowlock in the dictionary but it also means (in the dialect) to endure. There's a lot of tholing and other words. A glossary would have helped.

In modern days a pair of hikers, Sal,  an expert on geology, and Ian, whose area of experise must be discovered slowly, come across some of the unusual features of this landscape.

These times connect, with each getting glimpses of the other.

And the two stories both follow to their consequences.

It was really difficult to understand what was going on in the first half of the book. But it is worth it if you thole. The refusal to compromise with the language creates soime vivid characters. And as you start to unpick the unspoken motivations, as you start to learn who these people are and why they are interacting with the landscape, the book begins to grip.

Some moments:

  • "When bum hole's shut, fart's gone." (Ch 1)
  • "This here nook of the world, for me, smiles more nor any other." (Ch 6) 
  • "Sociable I have all day. Sociable is what I've come here to get away from. Do you know what sociable is? Smile without feeling." (Ch 16)

A strange book, difficult at the start. But worth it. September 2020; 158 pages

  • Garner is author of a number of novels, mostly aimed at children, in which ancient legends and magical worlds impact upon everyday life:

    • The Weirdstone of Brisingamenits sequel The Moon of Gomrathand the distinctively different concluding part to the 'trilogy', Boneland.
    • Elidor, a Narnia-style children's fantasy
    • The utterly brilliant Owl Service (aimed at young adults)
    • Red Shift, also aimed at young adults and perhaps the darkest of Garner's novels. A line in Elidor - "The legend says that there was once a ploughboy in Elidor: an idiot, given to fits. But in his fit he spoke clearly, and was thought to prophesy." (C 6) - seems to be a link with one of the characters in Red Shift. There are also several links between Red Shift and Boneland.

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