Tamsin Hardcover – Oct 26 1999
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Peter S. Beagle creates magic in this coming-of-age ghost story, returning to a subgenre he first explored in A Fine and Private Place. When her mother remarries, 13-year-old narrator Jenny Gluckstein moves from New York City to a run-down, haunted, 300-year-old farm in Dorset, England. In slow-moving early chapters, unhappy Jenny's beloved Mister Cat is quarantined for six months and she must attend an English girl's school. Jenny's voice is painfully genuine, her self-description merciless. If early adolescence brings on flashbacks, wait to read this book.
The pace picks up when Mister Cat returns and Jenny meets Meena Chari, whose belief in the supernatural comes from growing up in ghost-ridden India. First Mister Cat finds a new girlfriend, a ghostly Persian Cat only he and Jenny can see. Then she and her younger stepbrother, Julian, confront a boggart who's been playing tricks on the family. The gnome-like boggart is dressed in a Seven Dwarves hat, Robin Hood garb, "and heavy little boots, ankle-high--I'd have taken them for Doc Martens, except I don't think they make them in boggart sizes." The boggart warns her to beware of the ghost cat, her mistress, and "the Other One" most of all. But one afternoon she follows Mister Cat to meet Tamsin Willoughby, ghost of the farm-founder's daughter. Tamsin is friendly, but won't tell Jenny anything about the Other One, or talk about Edric, apparently her lost love. To free Tamsin's ghost, Jenny must relive the tragic history of 17th-century Dorset and face grave danger.
Tamsin is vintage Beagle: there's a shape-shifting Pooka, a ghostly love story, music, the Goddess, and the Wild Hunt. It's beautifully written and can be read on several levels, including as a loving homage to Thomas Hardy's moody novels (Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd) and poetry (Selected Poems). Or you can lose yourself in the story. Fans of The Last Unicorn will enjoy this one. --Nona Vero
From Publishers Weekly
Like his enchanting The Last Unicorn, Beagle's newest fantasy features characters so real they leap off his pages and into readers' souls. Tamsin Willoughby, dead some 300 years, haunts ramshackle old Stourhead Farm in Dorset, England, an ancient 700-acre estate that 13-year-old Jenny's new, English stepfather is restoring. Thoroughly American Jenny, miserable at being transplanted from New York City to rural Britain, finds a suffering kindred spirit in Tamsin, a ghost who is mourning Edric, a love she lost during Dorset's punitive Bloody Assizes under King James II. Tamsin leads Jenny through an engrossing night world inhabited by an array of British spiritsAthe Black Dog, a braggart Boggart, ominous Oakmen, the shapeshifting Pooka and a marvelous mystical army-booted Earth Mother. To save Tamsin and gentle Edric from eternal torment, Jenny faces evil personified: demonic Judge Jeffries, who sentenced hundreds of people to brutal execution during the Assizes. Slipping effortlessly between Jenny's brash 1999 lingo, the raw primeval dialect of ancient Dorset and Tamsin's exquisite Jacobean English, Beagle has created a stunning tale of good battling evil, of wonder and heartbreak and of a love able to outlast the worst vileness of the human heart. Fantasy rarely dances through the imagination in more radiant garb than this. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
That cavil aside, once you accept that the characters aren't really very bright, this is a truly well-written and sensitive fantasy, with astonishing insights into the concerns and teenage girls...Furthermore, TAMSIN warmed the heart of this old medievalist. It deals intimately with one of the crucial periods in history, the English Seventeenth Century--and reminds us why England had its Glorious Revolution and Bill of Rights, and why we must stalwartly defend our Constitution and our even better American Bill of Rights...
This is a great book for young and old alike. It's very compelling; you won't be able to put it down until the very end. Like most of Peter's books, the story runs the whole emotional range, from funny to sad to terrifying to joyous. And throughout, there's always the mystery and secret of Tamsin, unfolding piece by piece in Peter's Beagle's truly exhilarating, masterful, fairy-tale like style.
Still, it took me almost 4 months to open the pages of "Tamsin". And I couldn't put it down. (Neither could my wife, who swiped it off me soon after I'd started - we had quite a tussle over it!)
The amazing thing is what an immediate different experience "Tamsin" is to "Unicorn". Beagle writes thru a 19-year-old girl's eyes recounting her experiences at 13, and my wife swears "that's exactly how a teen girl thinks". He really gets the teen perspective spot-on. Amazing for a man whose teen years must be quite some decades behind him (sorry, Mr Beagle!).
It was a bit frustrating (just a bit) that the novel takes some time to get to the titular character - Tamsin - but in retrospect, it makes sense. Because the book is really just as much about the teen girl Jenny Gluckstein, who's uprooted from bustling New York to "dull" Dorset (so she had disgruntledly expected) by her mother's second marriage to an Englishman. This 'preamble' of quite a few chapters fleshes out Jenny's character really well - before the real fun starts!
That's when Tamsin is finally introduced, and the story's pace & drama move up a few notches. And so does the scare factor. Not any cheap, gimmicky kind, but one that really can send a chill down your spine, involving the unfolding a 300-year-old secret against a Dorset background rich in ghosts and myths.
I won't say anymore to spoil your enjoyment. This book is worth its full price - I'm just thrilled I got it at such a steal!
P.S. I'm now giving "The Last Unicorn" another chance - and hunting down more books by Peter S. Beagle!
Tamsin is the daughter of the original owner of the farm, from the fifteenth century. For some reason, Tamsin does not leave the farmhouse after her tragic early death, but hangs around in ghost form, along with her ghost cat. When Jenny sees and speaks to Tamsin, this seems to stir up all of the characters of myth and legend that abound in Dorset--Pookahs, Billy Blinds, and the Black Dog, who appears as an omen of something terrible to come.
Yet as we find out more about Tamsin's past, and Jenny is drawn deeper and deeper into the place where past and present meet, we realize that not all of these characters are merely mischevious--some are downright evil.
This book builds to a whirlwind climax that will have you on the edge of your set. It manages to be a thrilling ghost story while also a satisfying story of family life and "coming-of-age".
Most recent customer reviews
I wanted a fun read and I had loved The Last Unicorn, so I was happy to find this book (in the Young Adult section, although it really should have been in Fantasy). Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2003
Jenny delivers an account of her move to Dorset England after her mother's remarriage to a farming soil expert, which results in her acquaintence of many supernatural creatures... Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2003 by Elizabeth S. Gallaway
I think this could be a true story. Really, I wouldn't be shocked at all is Beagle told me that he'd simply written down a story he overheard one day. Read morePublished on March 10 2003
This is the first book I've read by Beagle. It won't be the last. This story is like a train, starting off slowly...building...building...continually gaining momentum. Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2003 by S. Waters
First of all, Peter S. Beagle is one of my absolutely favorite authors, so I am predisposed to like his works. That, being said, I really enjoyed this book. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2002 by Jody
I loved this book. I like ghost storys ,and what I liked best about this one is the true friendship that came to be between girl and ghost. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2002
this book was great. it tells the story of a 13 year old girl who moves to doreset. she dosent want to go but ends up have the adventure of a lifetime when see meets a ghost named... Read morePublished on Aug. 1 2002 by YVETTE MOHILL
Peter Beagle's most recent book creates characters that are so well-rounded and defined that you can't NOT believe in them. Read morePublished on March 10 2002 by ryfkah
I'm a big fan of Peter Beagle's work and this is one of my favorites. The charaters are well written and the story really moves along. Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2001