Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tam Lin - Pamela Dean

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 468
Reason for Reading : Twisted Fairy Tales Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, part of the Fairy Tale series edited by Terri Windling

I picked this up as it is part of the Fairy Tale series edited by Terri Windling and I like a lot of the collections she has put together with Ellen Datlow. The series is a collection of tales that each reinvent fairy tales. This focuses on the Scottish ballad Tam Lin which is helpfully reproduced at the end of the novel. It is set in America in the early 1970's in Blackstock Coleege. It begins with Janet Carter whose father lectures there on her first day. She meets her new roomates Christina and Molly as well as a couple of other girls on her floor and learns about the ghost who throws books out of their window at Halloween. She is also introduced to Thomas, Robin and Nick and the girls all pair off (Janet with Nick. Molly with Robin and Christina/Tina with Thomas).

A description of college life mostly fills the rest of the book. From the classes they each enroll in, their decisions over their majors, the petty squabbles between roomates and couples as well as dealing with their advisors at the college. Janet has Melinda Wolfe, an imposing woman who is determined to get her to switch from English to Classics when everyone knows the Classics majors are a little weird. She finds it hard to think about Melinda and form an opinion, something seems to keep pushing her out of her mind.

Peppered liberally with literary references especially Shakespeare and Keats as well as many others including Milton, I mostly enjoyed this novel. I loved it from the first page, lost interest a little in the middle as it all seemed a bit pomous and then enjoyed the latter third again. The thing that most bothered me was the sudden change that seemed to happen in the last 50 or so pages when it suddenly became a reworking of Tam Lin. It changed the tone from a look at college life with a few oddities and a ghost, to suddenly something much more supernatural which seemed a bit abrupt.


Ana S. said...

I didn't find the ending abrupt, but we can't all like everything the same way. I'm glad you still enjoyed it over all, though.

Jill said...

I just started rereading this today - I read it when it first came out and remember loving it. I'm glad you enjoyed it, too!