Thursbitch by Alan Garner was first published in 2003, I just noticed after I had bought it that my book is a signed copy. I’ve read quite a few of Alan Garner’s books over the years, they’re always a bit strange and this one is stranger than usual. To begin with it was just too weird for my taste but I did end up liking it, and it’s a difficult one to describe.
The setting is 18th century northern England – and contemporary. John Turner is a packman, carrying goods all over the country, anything that needs to be taken elsewhere, and sometimes he’s away from his home in very rural Cheshire for quite a long time with his horses and cart. It’s a time when most people hardly strayed from the neighbourhood that they were born in, so John/Jack is quite cosmopolitan compared with the locals.
I was more interested in the 21st century relationship between Ian and Sal though as they traversed the same hills that Jack had travelled through, albeit 200 years or so later.
This was one of my 20 Books of Summer.
There was a big book-shaped void in my life due to the shops being closed for what seemed like forever, and despite buying some books online it just wasn’t the same as going into actual shops and browsing the shelves. No book smell – no serendipity – no book chat with like-minded people. Book buying online is fairly soulless.
Anyway a trip to Edinburgh one day last week went some way to filling that gap as you can see. I had a lovely time even although we had to hang about outside the shops waiting for people to come out before we could go in due to the shops being fairly small.
The House of the Pelican by Elisabeth Kyle (1954)
Thursbitch by Alan Garner (2004)
Cross Gaits by Isabel Cameron (1945)
The Fascinating Hat by Isabel Cameron (1941)
Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann (1927)
The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski (1953)
The Shield Ring by Rosemary Sutcliff (1956)
Not a bad haul I think you’ll agree, they’re all by authors that I’ve read before and enjoyed – except for The House of the Pelican. I don’t even think I had ever heard of Elisabeth Kyle before, but the setting of the Edinburgh Festival appealed to me so I started that one almost immediately and so far – so very good.
Have you read any of these books?