I know it’s over a year old now, but I wasn’t looking out for it and I missed it. I got the softback, but found I wasn’t getting time to read it. So I reactivated my audible.com subscription and started listening to it on my commute. First up, Robert Powell has done a pretty good job of narration, but there’s a second point of view narration happening interleaved with Colin’s thread, and when Robert Powell’s voice goes echoey, that’s the only clue you get that the PoV has changed. It’s barely enough.
Colin’s voice is superbly done, clear and with all the idiosyncrasies authentically audible. Meg, on the other hand, comes across inconsistently – well-read and authoritative in her own field, but oddly childish and naïve when Colin the polymath emerges. Reading the same passages for myself off the paper, the words don’t cry out for such a childish interpretation to my mind.
At the heart of the book lie two great mysteries. The first is what actually happened to Colin's sister. The second is whether Colin himself will be healed. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that only one of those mysteries is resolved satisfactorily, unless I missed something in the hurly-burly of commuter traffic.
For the rest, though, Alan Garner’s mastery of the English language remains superb. His prose becomes poetic and rhythmical when it needs to be, alliterative and effortlessly summoning forth images and memories that must be part of the playground heritage of his generation and mine.
I feel slightly cheated that I didn’t get a full resolution, but I guess that’s the deal when you pick up an Alan Garner book. You take what the master gives you. I'm always grateful.