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March Books 16) The Owl Service

16) The Owl Service, by Alan Garner

I think I read almost all of Alan Garner's works as a teenager, but gave up on this one part way in because it didn't grab me at the time. Well, age brings increased ability to appreciate. It's an incredible book, a masterpiece of showing rather than telling, about patterns from the past (of story, of earthenware, of painting) coming to haunt the present day. There is a lot left beneath the surface - we never find out exactly how old Alison, Roger and Gwyn are, though the implication is that they are all three in their mid-teens, Alison perhaps younger than the other two; we never even see Alison's mother Margaret, though she remains a presence in the background; the mystery behind the owls and flowers and the pierced stone is never completely explained, which normally would annoy me, but just seems to work really well here. A really good book.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
communicator
Mar. 8th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)
Have you read Red Shift which is (I think) a more challenging exploration of the same theme?
nwhyte
Mar. 8th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
Yes, I have read Red Shift; I am not sure if it is really the better book, though it's a long time since I read it; it's certainly a more grown-up book, with a gang-rape in the first Roman chapter and the romance front and centre in the present-day narrative. But also, very good.
sammywol
Mar. 8th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
The TV series scared the crap out of me and, some 30 years later, the book did too. Eep!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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