Tanglewreck – Jeanette Winterson

Tanglewreck – Jeanette Winterson

This summer, I’ve wended my way through a long series of completely forgettable books–aside from Harry Potter, of course– and so haven’t felt compelled to post reviews of anything. But my luck has turned! A few weeks ago, Steve and I went downtown and hit Elliott Bay. Lo and behold, I hit the kiddie lit mother lode. Actually, I only bought two (the rest are on hold at the library), and one of them was a complete dud (Adam Gopnik’s “The King in the Window”). But Jeanette Winterson’s “Tanglewreck”–well!

The time tornadoes are raging when Abel Darwater pulls up to the old house Tanglewreck, where Silver lives with her horrible guardian aunt. He’s looking for the Timekeeper, a mysterious clock that will allow him to control time forever. He whisks Silver and her aunt off to London, still trying to wheedle information out of Silver–who escapes into the underground world of the Throwbacks. Along with her Throwback friend Gabriel, Silver goes on a quest to find the Timekeeper, where she runs into clever plays on words, imaginative representations of particle physics, a commentary on commercialization, and a whole host of other adventures that are surprisingly sophisticated yet still palatable to a younger audience

I don’t really know how to describe Tanglewreck, except to say that it’s a little “His Dark Materials,” a touch “A Wrinkle in Time,” and a smidge “The Phantom Tollbooth.” But we all know that comparisons are odious, and this is wholly its own imaginative work. Highly recommend.

2 thoughts on “Tanglewreck – Jeanette Winterson

  1. Is this the same author who wrote Written on the Body and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit? I had no idea she has branched out into books written for younger audiences. I think of her primarily as a writer of light erotica.

    I’m sorry to hear Adam Gopnik’s book was a dud. I absolutely loved Paris to the Moon and the anthology he edited, Americans in Paris. I enjoy his New Yorker pieces as well. But writing a decent children’s book is more difficult than you would think. There are so many crappy ones out there. I remember the late John Holt, educator and writer, saying that you should not read anything to a child that you wouldn’t read for your own enjoyment. He hated the awful talking-down-to patronizing tone of what passes for literature aimed at kids.

  2. Yep, it’s the same one. I confess that I’m not a huge Winterson fan, though I did like Oranges … the movie was pretty good too, but I think she wrote the script for it. Anyway, the book was great.

    I teeter back on forth on Gopnik. I’ve found his New Yorker pieces funny and interesting, yet at the same time there’s something unctuous about him–as though he makes a concerted effort to hit all the bases of whatever culture he’s writing about. This (along with the fact that the story never seemed to START) was the issue I had with his book. It was like he was saying, “Ok, magical stuff a la Harry Potter, check. Cultural sensitivity, check. Child angst at quarrelling parents, check.” I couldn’t get past it.

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