Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
A beguiling read
on 24 September 2002
This is a great book. I have read both of Burt's earlier novels and while I enjoyed both immensely, his latest is his best so far. 'The Dandelion Clock' focuses on three children and their relationship as kids in the hot, dusty town of Altesa through adolescence and beyond. Burt clearly loves his characters, there is so much detail and they feel 'real'. Quiet, diffident Alex, gentle Jamie and Anna, vivacious, intelligent, impossible to ignore. Frankly I found Anna deeply unsympathetic but the two boys are finely drawn, Jamie in particular is a wonderful creation. There is an incredible scene at the end of this novel that works on all levels - it's realistic yet so moving it nearly breaks your heart for the boy involved.
The plot itself is perhaps a bit contrived, a friend pointed out the similarity to the story in 'Whistle Down the Wind' in the idea of children hiding a wounded stranger. Nevertheless there are some excellent touches; Alex repeats the words he thought made Anna stay all those years ago, only to find that the difference between what we think we hear and what is actually said can be huge - and bring devastating consequences.
I must confess I cried at the end of this book. I was so thoroughly wrapped up in the characters and what had, and would happen to them (a nod to the crafty timescales which weave back and forth between childhood, adolescence and adulthood) that I was crying as much for what the kids themselves had lost as for the sadness of the scene.
To anyone who hasn't yet read 'After the Hole' and 'Sophie', do so, I doubt you'll be disappointed. Be warned, they are both a step into an unsettling world. 'Dandelion' has been written by an older author who set out to shock in his (dark) first two novels (and succeeded - think Fowles/The Collector for a hint of the psyche in the first) but got to grip with his characters in the third and wrote a treasure of a novel by doing so.
Probably the best book I read last year.