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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I couldn't put it down. I finished it in less than 24 hours, which was both good and bad - good because I really really wanted to see how it was going to end, but bad because the book is so slow and I got frustrated with it.
I would have adored this book when I was in jr high or high school. This would have been my favorite book then. I enjoyed it a lot now, but I did have some problems with it. For one thing, I see lots of reviewers here saying that it's not cliche. Well maybe you didn't read the same books I did, but I read a lot of young adult ghost stories back in the day, and this book follows the formula. It does it very well, yes, but it still follows the formula. Teenager forced against their will to move into a haunted house because a parent remarries, difficult time adjusting to new family, discovers a ghost with a tragic past, get information about the ghost from older, local people, etc. Wait Till Helen Comes for example (which is also a great young adult ghost story) has all of these cliches. So does The Headless Cupid (also excellent). Tamsin is excellent and worth reading, but the formula is there and is obvious if you've seen it before.
I don't want to be too negative, because this really is a good book, and I enjoyed it a lot. I adored Mister Cat! The house itself was creepy and I would have enjoyed more time spent to exploring it (and perhaps less time devoted to Tamsin almost - but then not - telling Jenny things).Read more ›
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...
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!
I was able to lose myself in this novel, and I was sorry when the it ended. On the last page, the pooka said, "Jenny Gluckstein mystery belongs to mystery, not to Dorset or London. You are yourself as much a riddle as any you will ever encounter, and so you you will always draw riddles to you, wherever you may be. If there should be a boggart in New York, he will find your house, I assure you, as any pooka in London will know your name." This leaves a door open to perhaps meet Jenny again. I for one would be glad to meet Jenny and any of her fantastic compatriots in another novel.
Most recent customer reviews
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