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Are you ready to Ask?,
This review is from: The Limits of Enchantment: A Novel (Paperback)
Set in the mid 1960s, this book also harks back to English paganism and the age-old history of witchcraft. In the rural backwater where Fern lives with Mammy, who is not her birth-mother but with whom she has a great bond, the community is about to be invaded by a colony of hippies, who bring their dissolute life-style with them and divide the opinions of local gentry and villagers alike. There is trouble afoot from the moment Mammy is forced into hospital, leaving Fern vulnerable, not just to the hippies, but to the semi-hostile intent of almost everyone else. Mammy is an (unregistered) midwife and a known procurer of abortions for unlucky girls who have been `caught'. She is also a kind of pagan witch, who has knowledge of white magic. And Fern knows most of her secrets.
The mystical moments in this novel are handled with faultless assurance and delicacy and Fern, the narrator throughout, is honest about both her unwillingness to believe in her legacy, and the events that lead her into a kind of belief. Vulnerable and powerful, both, she has to find a way to compromise with the world around her, which she does - in the end. But there are dangers and antagonisms to be overcome first.
Effortlessly straddling both ancient and modern belief systems, Joyce's book is a total delight. A hypnotic read from the first page to the last.