Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World

Author: Signe Pike
ISBN: 9781848503724

What’s it about? According to the author, “It’s an examination of the loss of myth in modern culture” (page 9).   I would say it’s a personal exploration into the current belief (or lack thereof) in fairies in the modern world, as experienced by one young woman by travelling through Mexico, England, the Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland, all the while still grieving the loss of her father about whom she has mixed emotions.

By reacquainting herself with the belief in faery, Signe Pike feels she may find a way to work through the conflicting emotions she has following the loss of her father, but before undertaking the journey to faery, Signe relinquishes her job in publishing and moves interstate, away from the city.  Life-changing events indeed.   

Why did I read it?   Because it was offered to me.

What did I like about it?  It’s an amazingly easy read.   It shows that Signe Pike worked in the publishing industry, because the book is very well organised, with a warm voice, unimposing language and her memories of her father are interposed nicely with the main narrative.

Signe Pike clearly did her research and was enthused by her subject; her descriptions refrain from being flowery or expansive, but the impressions given provide a good image in the mind’s eye of the places visited.   Thankfully, too, the book progresses from the Disney-like fairy creatures to musings on the Sith, Sidhe and other historical manifestations of the “other crowd“.  

What didn’t I like?   The research undertaken was done post-travel, and there were errors.  For instance, on page 185 of the U.K. paperback edition, the following appears:
… elderflower liquor … made from the flowers on the hawthorn trees, you know, the faery trees“.
Elderflowers are from elder trees, which not unlike hawthorn is thought to reign back luck down on those who cut it down without permission, but most definitely isn’t the same as hawthorn.   Hawthorn does produce berries (haws) which can be made into wine though.

I didn’t agree with a lot of the connections/extrapolations the author made; some I felt were more than a step too far.  Many sites were missed out, owing to financial restrictions, and I felt some research before the trip might have been beneficial, but this is a personal journey, so I suspect serious research was beyond the scope of the book.

Would I recommend it?  Sure:  To those that really, really want to believe in that magic they knew as a child; to those that  want to dip their little toe in the mystical otherworld; to those going on holiday and want something easy and light to read, but nothing too serious; to those that might frequent Glastonbury, the town, not the festival.  

I would not recommend it to anyone that has spent time traversing the Otherworld; I just don’t think they would appreciate it very much.

Rating: 3½/5.

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