The Limits of Enchantment by

23 July 2007

Call no:
Setting: ,
Rated :

ISBN: 0575072318
See also:Agony column ; Joyce discusses his book ;

If I could tell you this in a single sitting then you might believe all of it, even the strangest part.

I’m quite a fan of Graham Joyce and his writing. He really knows how to suck you into the worlds he creates. His are novels that tend to straddle the “genre” divide. You could as easily class them under general fiction as under fantasy. And I’m sure some genre snobs would never think of him as a fantasy writer. Me, I see the teeniest bit of magic and it is going under sff. This novel, The Limits of Enchantment, is set in rural England in the 1960’s, when modern medical practices are taking over the role traditionally held by women like Mammy Cullen.

Some may call her a witch, others might refer to her as a wisewoman, but for those in her village she is someone to turn to in times of need, but also to fear. Fern, her adopted daughter, grows up learning all about herbs and sayings, midwifery and natural remedies. But at the same time is sheltered from the changing atmosphere of the times. No swinging sixties for her.

Joyce is a master story-teller; but while I thoroughly enjoyed this novel it doesn’t really linger the way some others have. I liked the character of Fern, she was so full of knowledge and yet so innocent at the same time. And Mammy Cullen was a character and a half. But for some reason, once I put the book aside to do something else I felt no great compulsion to pick it up again. Of course, as soon as I did I was sucked right back in, but it doesn’t have that something that makes me love a book.

But I suppose in a way the opening tells the reader that the book is better enjoyed in one sitting, although we have lost the talent of Listening, and so may be distracted, and so the story may not work as well :)

There is plenty to make you think; abortion, the role of the outsider in any situation, the nature of reality. But I found myself content to simply experience and enjoy the story rather than ponder any deeper message.

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1 Response

  1. jean pierre says:

    i've never read him – which of his other books are good? what are they about?