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Feuer und Schierling (1985)

von Diana Wynne Jones

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1,931546,584 (4.09)160
At nineteen, Polly has two sets of sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting memories, the real-life ones of school days and her parents' divorce, and the heroic adventure ones that began the day she accidentally gate-crashed a funeral and met the cellist Thomas Lynn.
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Nineteen-year-old Polly suddenly realizes that she has two different sets of memories of the past nine years. One involves some very odd, even fantastic events she experienced in the presence of a man named Tom Lynn, who meant a great deal to her. The other is relentlessly mundane, and contains no trace of this person at all. And as she thinks back over the life she's forgotten, she eventually comes to realize why she's forgotten it, and to consider what she needs to do save poor Tom.

It's really hard to say precisely how I feel about this book. The plot is intriguing, if a bit slow. But the subtle, complicated ways in which Jones weaves together the mundane day-to-day world and the world of faerie is really interesting, and rather thought-provoking. There is, for instance, probably a parallel to be drawn between the way young Polly gets half-understood glimpses of the supernatural around her and her child's-eye view of her parents' divorce, and I think there's some fascinating material to chew over there.

On the other hand, man, did aspects of this story make me uncomfortable. The person who recommended it to me sort of warned me of this going in, saying that it contains "a romance between an adult and a child." And that's absolutely what it does contain; there's really just no other way of putting it. This isn't quite as horrifying as it might sound. There's not really anything terribly sexually inappropriate. But for much of the novel -- especially at the beginning, as Tom first strikes up Polly's friendship in a way that left me feeling like he was going to offer her candy in his van at any moment -- it did have me squirming more than a little. "Geez," I often found myself thinking, "I know this is an area where social mores have changed a little over the past decades" -- the book was published in 1985 -- "but how the hell can the author not be aware of just how creepily this is coming off?!" Aspects of the ending, however, had me reconsidering that, and thinking that perhaps not only did she entirely realize how disturbing it was, but that that was actually part of the point. And now I feel unsettled about it all in an entirely different way, maybe.

Rating: It's really hard to know how to rate this one. I think I'm going to give it 4/5, but maybe with a rather large asterisk. ( )
  bragan | Oct 20, 2021 |
Jones is a unique writer in my experience. She is clever, very clever and her plots show this. Almost as if she is a children's writer with a classic style. With her other books- I was hooked on the sheer delightfulness of the plots and the quirky characters. While I never cared extremely for Sophie (Howl's Moving Castle) I loved Howl, narcissism and all. And I was captured by the castle. (Pun not intended) Here I felt sorry for Tom and Polly was cardboard. I got the nastiness of the divorce. But I wasn't ready to make the commitment for what promised to be (for me) a long, drawn out, pity party for the characters until the happy ending (hopefully). SO yes. I never finished it. However, should there come a time when I can stomach this I wouldn't mind going back to it. Maybe after some time I will. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
DWJ Book Toast, #17

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite fantasy authors, growing up and now, and I was saddened by the news of her death. I can't say I'm overcome with emotion - as personal as some of her work is to me, its not like I knew her after all - but I wish I could put into words how I feel about her no longer being out there, writing new adventures and laughing at all of us serious fans thinking so hard about her words when we should simply get on with the business of enjoying them.

And that's...what I'm going to do. She's left behind a huge body of work, a large amount of which I haven't read yet, so I'm going to reread all my old favorites (and hopefully some new).

When I wrote about 'The Time of the Ghost' a week or so ago I used the phrase 'high concept'. Well. 'Fire and Hemlock' is even more ambitious, and, what's more, it succeeds.

The novel isn't perfect and it took awhile for the future-looking-back narration to take hold, but the character of Polly is engaging, especially in her earlier memories, and the way the story unfolded kept me interested. As she grew up and the romance aspect became more prominent (I've never read 'Tam Lin' or any adaption of it so I didn't have everyone pegged from the start) I lost some interest because it wasn't very believable, but by then I was committed.

Polly's reading, and her writing attempts, were a strong selling-point, too. Diana Wynne Jones definitely took pains to work in the influence of certain books on growing up and the mechanics behind those first endeavors to create something outside of yourself.

Like most Jones novels, things get a bit messy and there are disappointments and small successes for the characters as years go by. We only have Polly's perspective to go by, but she provides all the information a reader needs. Jones doesn't ignore the unpleasant aspects of growing up, or hesitate to give her characters undesirable home-lifes. I'm not sure who wins the bad parenting of the year award in this one, Polly's mom and her dad are both remarkably screwed up individuals.

The fact that Jones' characters and their situations (below the fantastical happenings) are so close to life, really doesn't help Jones' chance at crafting a satisfying ending. There is a climactic ending featuring a convergence of unlikely characters and revealing explanations, but the bow around the final package ends up a trifle lopsided. This is one that needs a more careful rereading perhaps, but it was enjoyable.

-Before I click save I just have to deplore the stiff, fussy cover of this edition. On every level it is unappealing, from Ichabod Crane eyeballing the back of lace-collared Polly's head, to the cheap typesetting of the title. ( )
2 abstimmen ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
"Fire and Hemlock" was enitrly different from what I was expecting in so many different ways, and to my surprise I quite enjoyed it anyway. There was what seemed to be a clear age difference between the two main characters, though toward the end it was sort of explained away as how children view anyone a few years older than them--but it was never explicitly stated how big the age difference was. It's left me to needlessly obsess, since it wasn't that important to the story.

I loved all the characters. They were all beautifully developed and felt utterly real. My biggest complaint is the ending. I didn't quite understand exactly what happened. It was a kind of magic that isn't the usual hocus-pocus, and I feel like it wasn't explained fully.

Other than that, though, fantastic read. I devoured it in two sittings--two instead of one because at one point I was up until five AM and finally gave up for the night and had to go to bed. :) ( )
1 abstimmen whatsmacksaid | Sep 21, 2018 |
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» Andere Autoren hinzufügen

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Diana Wynne JonesHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Beekman, DougUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Nix, GarthEinführungCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Viitanen, Anna-MaijaÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Wyatt, DavidIllustratorCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Zudeck, DarrylUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt

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At nineteen, Polly has two sets of sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting memories, the real-life ones of school days and her parents' divorce, and the heroic adventure ones that began the day she accidentally gate-crashed a funeral and met the cellist Thomas Lynn.

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