Thursday, 30 October 2008

Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle

Published 1999

Isn't it lovely when you find a book that you like so much that you know you'll return to it over and over? I've loved Peter S. Beagle's writing since I read The Last Unicorn in the far-distant past when it was new and I was still a schoolgirl – I devoured it alongside George MacDonald's Phantastes and William Morris's The Wood Beyond the World, and it was Beagle who became my enduring favourite. A few years later I happened across A Fine and Private Place in the library, and was enchanted, but then there was a long silence. There was a showing on television of the animated version of The Last Unicorn, which I found quite charming because I knew the original, but which failed to "take" with the sons in the way that Watership Down or Charlotte's Web had done.

More recently, however, something made me search for information about Beagle – it may have been because I found my copy of The Last Unicorn on a bottom shelf and enjoyed its Thurber-esque handling of fairy tales all over again. And, joy of joys, it looked as though there might be – in a very limited output in the intervening years, what has the man been doing? – two more novels to track down via Abebooks, now that having books sent from the other side of the world has become wickedly cheap and easy. I started with The Innkeeper's Song, which looked to be the more solid read, and mentioned it briefly it here – not as good as the Unicorn, but certainly worth the trouble I'd gone to in getting it (I'm beginning to look forward to re-acquainting myself with it already). I wasn't in a hurry to read Tamsin – I thought it looked, from the descriptions, amiable but possibly slight.