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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Hodder
Published: 2010 (paperback 2011)
Genre: Magic Realism (possibly, or perhaps Magic Romance, if such a genre exists)

Find it at Amazon UK

The Blurb says...
Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve some of the riddles surrounding her mother's life. Why did she leave her hometown so suddenly? Why did she vow never to return?

But in a place where unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight, where the wallpaper in your bedroom changes to suit your mood, and where a neighbour bakes hummingbird cakes in the hope of bringing back a lost love, Emily will find that the answers are not what she expects...

My verdict: An engaging, delightful, tender book to curl up with.  Highly recommended as an enchanting summer read. 
This is the third of Sarah Addison's books I've read and I've enjoyed them all thoroughly. I love the fact that magical powers or unusual abilities are just there in all of these books, often simply accepted by many of the small-town characters. These powers tend to be original and quirky. She also has food as an important theme in them all somehow, and I have a sneaking suspicion she has a sweet tooth! I also appreciate the difficulty in placing her books in a genre. They do include romance, but I wouldn't necessarily put them into that category. There isn't the classic relationship-against-the-odds vibe as standard, for example, and the story is often about more than one female protagonist, and hence more than one relationship features.

In this novel, the main action centres around young Emily's arrival into the town, but the stories of several other characters are also important. There's Julia, living next door, who takes Emily under her wing but is wrestling with her own issues quietly. Julia's relationship with Emily's mother was difficult, but she is welcoming to the teenager while others seem to be punishing her for something her mother did. The key male characters are: Emily's grandfather Vance, the Mullaby Giant, who has no idea how to relate to her; Win Coffey, a member of the social elite who is not supposed to associate with Emily; and Sawyer, a real 'Southern gentleman' type who flirts shamelessly with Julia.  The story is told in the third person, with sections from different characters' perspectives, allowing us insight into most of the main players at some point.

I really can't rate this novel highly enough as an absorbing and enchanting read. Although it has a real lightness of touch, there are serious themes of forgiveness and prejudice: it's not 'weighty', but nor is it trivial or overly sentimental.

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