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Old 28th Jun 2006, 10:43   #28
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Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,739
Default Re: Jeanette Winterson

Amanda Craig seems to like Tanglewreck in her Times review which describes it as for the 9+ agegroup:

Jeanette Winterson’s Tanglewreck is her first novel for children. From the opening, when an Ancient Egyptian chariot bursts out of Cleopatra’s Needle and a bus full of schoolchildren disappears by the Thames, the pace is unflagging.

Silver, the 11-year-old heroine, is an orphan whose parents have been snatched away by a Time Tornado. The unpleasant Mrs Rokabye and sinister Abel Darkwater are convinced that Silver knows where the Timekeeper — a seventeenth-century device that controls time — is hidden. Silver is in danger of losing Tanglewreck, her family’s ancient home, with which she has a special bond of psychic communion, and the world is in danger of collapsing into chaos.

Silver is taken to London, where she resists Abel’s attempt to hypnotise her and escapes into the weird underground world of her odd new friend, Gabriel. From there, it’s a race through time, space and the vagaries of public transport to beat the bad guys to the Timekeeper. The house, meanwhile, fights back against two bad burglars and Mrs Rokabye’s revolting rabbits with admirable aplomb.

The tale is told with such sympathy and verve that you wonder why it has taken this writer so long to do what seems most natural to her. Reminiscent of John Masefield’s classic, The Midnight Folk, this story of a brave, lonely, imaginative child is drawn by someone who retains perfect recollection of what it was like to be one.

What is particularly interesting is that, where adult novelists such as Audrey Niffenegger and Liz Jensen have recently used time travel to explore romantic love, these children’s authors use it to explore the moral debt adults owe children — a challenging preoccupation that guilty parents will recognise all too well. The special nature of childhood rests on having the luxury of time, as Dylan Thomas’s great poem, Fern Hill, recognises.

Tanglewreck, like Gideon the Cutpurse and Kate Thompson’s The New Policeman, is partly a satire on our current perception that we all have too little time due to a change in the nature of reality, rather than our own greed and impatience. Neither should be missed.
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