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Tamsin (thoughts)

July 18, 2008

Let’s get this out of the way to begin with: I loved Peter Beagle’s Tamsin! I’ve never read Beagle before, but Nymeth and Chris both recommended this one. I managed to completely forget everything about it except that they enjoyed it, so when I picked it up and realised it was a ghost story, I was super excited. :D

The story takes awhile to get going, but I’m a leisurely reader so that didn’t bother me. Nineteen-year-old Jenny, at the promptings of her best friend, has written down what happened to her when she was thirteen, beginning with her and her mothers’ move to Dorsetshire, England to live with her mother’s new husband. Jenny is a typical thirteen-year-old: a bit of a brat, who just can’t seem to help being contrary. I sympathised: while I didn’t get high (the drug use felt extraneous to me, but that’s my only quibble with the book), I certainly had the “If I’m not happy, no one is” attitude at that age. Also, I just happened to move from England back to the States when I was fourteen, and while I was excited about the move (I’m always excited about moving), there was definite culture shock. Culture shock plus puberty never makes a pretty picture. ;) I also sympathise with the older Jenny, who looks back cringingly at her younger self! Beagle perfectly captures the narrative voice, and what it’s like to be a young girl feeling completely out of control with everything.

And while the ghost story takes awhile to take main stage-it’s always teasing around the margins-once it does, it’s just perfect. There’s good and evil and mystery and the Middle Ages and faeries and even a Pooka. :D I’m not going to give any more away, but you ought to go read this one right now.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2008 8:45 am

    I liked this one too. Ghost stories are not my thing, but Beagle made it really enjoyable. And halfway believeable!

  2. July 18, 2008 4:16 pm

    I haven’t read this one but I loved Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. His writing leaves plenty of room for the imagination.

  3. July 19, 2008 5:35 am

    I need to fit this in somewhere! I bought it not too long ago, because both Chris and Nymeth made it sound so wonderful. Now you’ve gone and done the same thing, and I’m itching to throw everything else aside and just go pick it up.

  4. July 19, 2008 7:02 am

    I can’t wait to re-read this one! While, as you say, “Beagle perfectly captures the narrative voice,” may be true in the figurative sense, it was most definitely not the case in the literal sense! Beagle himself narrating the audiobook was disconcerting, as he is, well, a middle-aged Jewish man, and the main character is a young female. Didn’t work at. all. but the story itself was great. I do agree with you, though, that the drug use (as well as the bit about the teacher) felt extraneous to the story as a whole.

  5. July 19, 2008 11:57 am

    Ooh, I loved this book, too. Even more than The Last Unicorn, which is a perennial favorite, especially since the old animated movie gets me all nostalgic. Have you read his other book ‘A Fine and Private Place’? It’s fantastic.

  6. July 19, 2008 7:41 pm

    I’m just about to read this one! I’ll let you know when I have posted….then I’ll come back and read yours, but I want to be surprised, so I haven’t read any more except that you liked it – and so did Nymeth and Chris….

  7. July 20, 2008 11:42 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, Eva! It’s amazing how well Beagle captures the voice of a teenage girl, isn’t it?

  8. July 21, 2008 11:48 am

    Jeane, I agree! I loved the end too. :D

    Petunia, I’ll have to read The Last Unicorn now!

    Debi, you do have to read it! It’s pretty short too. And when Annie starts going through the annoying teenage phase, make her read it too, lol, because the narrator is embarassed by how bratty she was at thirteen. ;)

    Somer, that’s so weird! I tried listening to Bradbury reading Farenheit 451, and I hated his voice so much I couldn’t get into the story. :(

    Lesley, I haven’t: I’ll look into it now!

    Susan, I hope you like it!

    Nymeth, it is pretty amazing! I wonder if he has daughters…


  1. Review: Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle | Bart's Bookshelf

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