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4.7 out of 5 stars36
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 22 August 2013
Graham Joyce's characters are so well written I always leave his novels feeling like I might have actually met them, rather than read about them. Its the same with the dream-like environments they inhabit. TYOTL is a love story, a lust story, a story of dangerous politics and a fading industry - but most of all its a story of a young man laying ghosts to rest, growing up, falling in love and moving on.

The only reason I haven't given the book 5 stars is that - for me - the supernatural scenes upset the flow of the book; jarring the story, rather than flowing with it. But this is a quibble - I loved the book.
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on 12 May 2014
There is a magician in this book but not really the main character and not a magician as in the supernatural. Nothing is as it seems, in this novel except the vivid depiction of what it is like to be a student in fairly mild rebellion against family expectations, to be an infatuated young man, sorting people around him into the good and the bad. A question mark even hangs over the real 'supernatural'.
The sad thing about the book is that the political situation of the late nineteen-seventies described so well is being re-enacted around us thirty-six years later.
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on 3 March 2016
For most of its length this is an enjoyable, easy read. The period and setting are convincingly evoked and there are some memorable characters. Unfortunately the protagonist isn't one of them. He's one of those kind of blank guys who is just there to give the plot a focus: he's the person the story happens to, but otherwise there's nothing particularly interesting about him. He's also, irritatingly, seemingly irresistible to gorgeous women who all throw themselves at him for no discernible reason.
The plot includes some interesting strands about 1970s Britain (the decline of seaside resorts and holiday camps, the brief flare of popularity of the National Front) although I didn't feel that they were either explored in enough depth or tied together. It's the kind of book which needs to either be longer and more detailed, or reduced to a short story. The supernatural element is well handled with imaginative and convincingly nightmarish sequences, although the resolution of that particular part of the plot feels a little under-explained and inconsequential.
I'd try another of Joyce's books (apparently this isn't one of his best) but I don't know that I'd recommend this one unless you just want to wallow in the period detail and hazy/creepy summer mood.
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on 25 July 2013
This is a brilliant book - took me back to a fondly remembered summer from my childhood. The subject matter is delicate at times but true to what was happening back then although I did not know it at the time - fortunately things have moved on significantly.
Joyce introduces and develops his characters in a way that draws you in and compels you to carry on reading - I couldn't put it down!!!
Thanks again for another fabulous read Graham!
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on 27 November 2013
I received this book as a giveaway. It did not disappoint Having been of a similar age during the 1970's I could really relate to the storyline. Even without the ghost storyline I would have enjoyed the book as a coming of age story. The characters were well drawn and believable. I read the book at one sitting as I wanted to know what was going to happen. I will look for this author again
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on 8 July 2013
I have not read a book of Graham Joyce' s that doesn't stay with me long after I've turned the last page. This one brings back long forgotten memories of a time and place. The past truly is a different country I must remember to cross the border occasionally. Another great read I give thanks for.
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on 1 January 2014
Bought it by accident whilst looking for something to read. Must adjust I wasn't sure at first but it's an easy read that keeps you wanting more. Well written with the ability to twist and turn at an easy pace, I'd recommend this.
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on 26 June 2013
Great book couldn't put it down. Took me back to my childhood days of Skeggy . Mysterious plot and dark undercurrents of an unsettled time. Memories of drought and ladybirds set in the 70s.
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on 24 January 2014
Enjoyable easy read but not really much of a ghost story. Nothing much seemed to happen but I don't think it was meant to. Will definitely read something else by this author.
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I may have read too many novels by Joyce, whom I discovered earlier this year, too close together, because this particular outing had me latching on to his style and voice a little too easily, and I felt rather 'I've heard this one before', though of course I hadn't, but was experiencing the disappointment, rather than the comfort of, familiarity.

The Year Of The Ladybird is a growing to manhood book, set in the long, hot, dry summer of 1976. Set in a holiday camp in Skegness, amongst the seasonal workers, it follows the story of David Barwise, a young student, working the summer vac as a Greencoat. David has some history with the place, which is revealed over the life of the book, and is connected with the 'supernatural elements' in the publicity info - the book is billed as a ghost story.

In my earlier readings of Joyce, I felt that his finger on the cultural and political landscape of his settings, has been excellent, and that the other realities or fantasy settings are a kind of deepening of the more acceptable realities.

Unfortunately, this was not the case here. The closed, curious locked in a week-long time-warp and fake community world of the holiday camp and the turned in on itself world of the camp workers, were excellently done. So too, particularly was the sense of a very real and corrupt underside to that world. Seasonal work of that kind attracts all kinds of disparate people, and some have darker stories than others, to explain why they are there. The undercurrent of some of the dark happenings and rumblings from organised, far right, racist groups was menacing and potent. So was the slightly incestuous nature of sex and romance, within the 'family' of the workers within the camp. All this had me absorbed. However, the ghost elements of the man in the blue suit and the small boy, with their eyes like glass failed to convince this reader, and i found their tacking into the story an annoyance. The uncovering of David's real history with Skegness (which I'm sure I'm not alone in having cracked immediately) could I think have been managed better without them. I felt there were two books here - a well written one, evoking a time, place, and rite of passage of sorts, and a short ghost story. Either could have stood alone, together, they felt a little less than each would have been without the other
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