A boy escapes from the harsh realities of post-World War I London into the evocative world of his imagination, where a discovery of his heritage offers him the key to understanding his own past. 25,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo. Tour.
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Ackroyd's rich imagination and literary inventiveness have never been showcased so deliberately and provocatively as in this impassioned paean to English culture--but not with complete success. Perhaps the book's liability is the tone of lassitude and melancholy that permeates protagonist Tim Harcombe's narrative of his strange life with his healer/magician father during the days following WW I in London. Tim's recollections alternate with third-person accounts of his visions, dreams in which he encounters some of the dead masters of English literature, music and art and enters into their works and worlds. In this fashion, Tim comprehends the intellectual heritage that binds Britons through the centuries, and also the cyclical nature of human existence, the inheritance of family characteristics from generation to generation. Ackroyd's rendering of Tim's fugue states ranges from the charming and whimsical to the heavily didactic. In the best of them, he captures the surreal quality of dreams while cleverly adopting the style of the writers to whom he pays homage: Dickens, Blake (he has written biographies of both), Lewis Carroll, A. Conan Doyle. In other cases, where he tries to convey the essential characteristic of music (Henry Purcell) or of art (Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable) the conceit can wear thin. The artifice of the plot device--Tim must fall into his trances at regular intervals--becomes too predietable, and the constant repetition of the theme of cultural heritage somewhat overwrought. Yet the novel remains intriguing, and certainly enlightening. Illustrations.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Outside the hall in 1920s London where Timothy Harcombe works nightly with his father, a sign reads, "Clement Harcombe. Medium and Healer." But it is Timothy who seems to have the greater power. Periodically falling into dreamlike states, he enters into "English music"--here signifying all the great accomplishments of English culture--where he encounters various literary figures, becomes part of a Gainsborough painting, and is instructed in music by William Byrd. Fearful of his son's gift, the father ships him off to his maternal grandparents in the country. But ultimately Timothy rejoins his father--for "everyone belongs somewhere"--and discovers the true extent of his miraculous powers. Ackroyd suggests that we all belong to culture. His book is both charming and ambitious, but it is more successful in concept than in execution. The transitions between Timothy's real and imagined worlds aren't seamless, and Ackroyd's lovely prose is sometimes weighed down by his message. Still, this work is more intriguing than much contemporary fiction and should appeal especially to those who appreciate the art Ackroyd celebrates.
-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Penguin UK, 1993. Book Condition: Good. Open market ed. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP91324111
Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 1988. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: Used; Very Good. Dispatched, from the UK, within 48 hours of ordering. Though second-hand, the book is still in very good shape. Minimal signs of usage may include very minor creasing on the cover or on the spine. Bookseller Inventory # CHL2124867
Book Description Penguin, 1988. Paperback. Book Condition: Good+. From the Largest Secondhand Book Shop in the Midlands. Bookseller Inventory # 00046999
Book Description Penguin UK. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: GOOD. Good clean copy with no missing pages might be an ex library copy; Possibly may have minor marginal notes and or highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 2738082856
Book Description Book Condition: good. 227 Gramm. Bookseller Inventory # M00140169423-G
Book Description Penguin UK. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Minimal damage to cover and binding. Pages show light use. Bookseller Inventory # G0140169423I3N00
Book Description Penguin UK. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Book has some visible wear on the binding, cover, pages. Bookseller Inventory # G0140169423I3N00
Book Description Penguin Group, 1993. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Paperback. Sound & good copy, mild creasing, light to moderate shelf/reading wear, thumbing wear, stamped, tape at base of spine. Bookseller Inventory # c669755
Book Description Penguin UK, 1988. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. 0140169423 Used book. Very good. Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Bookseller Inventory # BING7336720
Book Description Penguin UK, 1988. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. 0140169423. Bookseller Inventory # IM97958