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4. Terry Pratchett (2003), The Wee Free Men

Very enjoyable. I think overall I slightly preferred Wintersmith, mainly because its story-arc felt better crafted - some the scenes in the Queen's domain dragged a little for me. But I like Tiffany all the more now, and I warmed to the Nac Mac Feegles over the course of this book in a way I hadn't with Wintersmith.

I'm also now in a better position to appreciate the genesis of the unity of setting which I noticed in Wintersmith. People who've read Hatful of Sky can put me right if necessary, but it looks to me now as though all the Tiffany / Feegles books do the same thing. And this is great, because I've always felt that Terry Pratchett is extremely good at writing landscape - not just as some hills or rocks, but as a quasi-living entity which shapes the people who live on it. The whole of the Discworld benefits from this, but focussing on the Chalk in the Tiffany books really gives him the opportunity to bring it out to a new level - and I think it is actually the thing I like about them most of all.

The motif of the picture on the front of Jolly Sailor tobacco packet has left me with a puzzle, though. I'm sure I've read some other children's fiction book in which a rather isolated near-adolescent girl derives solace from a similar rugged tobacco-pouch sailor, coming to think of him as 'her Hero'. He may even have appeared as a real person in some form towards the end of the book. But I can't for the life of me remember what this book might have been. All I can say is that it probably wasn't by Diana Wynne Jones, because feel that I read whatever-it-was quite some time ago. That rules out all but the Chrestomanci books, and none of them have the right kind of isolated female character at their centre. I've browsed my shelves, but can't see any clues - and might not anyway, as quite a few of my older books are in storage with my parents. Can anyone else enlighten me on this?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2007 11:27 am (UTC)
Domino in Thunderball tells Bond about her adolescent fantasies concerning the Players sailor.

This may not be what you are thinking of.
Mar. 23rd, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
OMG, you're brilliant - that is it! I found an online copy here, and what I'm remembering may be found starting on page 124 of 189 (or search for 'my Hero').

Just goes to show how my memory has mashed things up, then, thinking it was in a children's book. In my defence, though, I read this book at least fifteen years ago, possibly more, and I suppose I can see how I'd have got confused over time, because she is looking back to her adolescence.

Anyway, that's definitely what I was remembering, and I'm thrilled to have been able to track it down and read it again. A great passage, and I can very much see how it would have appealed to me as a female reader in her early teens, irredeemably given to the same sorts of fantasies myself. Could the real-life appearance which I thought happened later in the book be something to do her coming to think of Bond as a kind of incarnation of the Hero, perhaps?
Mar. 23rd, 2007 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you ^.^

I know I've read Wee Free Men but I can't remember the tobacco pouch - I'm sure I must have thought of Thunderball at the time.

And searchable Fleming texts online, my word! Who's brilliant now?
Mar. 23rd, 2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
Who's brilliant now?


As for Wee Free Men, Tiffany's grandmother smoked Jolly Sailor tobacco, and a sou'westered sailor on the front of the packet became the way Tiffany learnt about the sea, even though she'd never actually seen it in her life. It's rather an important theme, because a) she later realises that the Chalk was once a sea-bed, so that the sea is actually buried deep in her cultural heritage, and b) she ends up in a dream-world based on the tobacco packet, in which the Sailor pursues a huge whale that is an incarnation of the Queen on her behalf.
Mar. 23rd, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
Now I remember! What a clever chap he is.
Mar. 23rd, 2007 12:06 pm (UTC)
Actually, I can now sort of answer that last question myself - on p. 149 of the same thing, she calls Bond 'my hero!' So it's not over-laboured, but effectively yes - he does become her very own real-life Player's Tobacco Hero.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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