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Anita by Keith Roberts
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Vignettes of a cutesy, gullible, teen witch and her cranky grandmother with a dash of British dark humor. Each story is unique and some are better than others yet each delightful on their own. ( )
  revslick | Sep 22, 2014 |
I first read these stories, what, forty years ago? I recalled them as being funny, and some of them still were (as well being an obvious source for Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg), but what my teenage self hadn't noticed was the quite appalling sexism in one of the stories. (It is apparent from other of Roberts' work that he has ... issues, shall we say). ( )
  sloopjonb | May 25, 2014 |
I read several of the Anita stories when they first appeared in the magazine Science Fantasy/SF Impulse many years ago, and moderately enjoyed them. When I noticed at Philcon a few weeks ago that Darrell Schweitzer was selling copies of his Owlswick Press's volume of the collected series I naturally snapped one up.

Anita is a young bombshell of a witch trying to do her best to fit into the world of the 1960s and '70s despite the limitations imposed by the elderly relative with whom she lives, Granny Thompson, the literary ancestor of Terry Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax and I would say an even more wonderful creation. ("I can turn meself inter more than wot you can an' I'm got me sciatica.") Anita's 16 adventures are (with arguably one exception; see below) never less than entertaining, although a number of them have an inconsequential quality that made me wish Roberts had wrestled with them a bit longer. One in particular, "#7: The Jennifer", has a stupendous buildup -- Anita meets a mermaid who summons the great sea serpent to take Anita to the submarine kingdom of the merfolk -- but then just sort of screeches to a halt: the story ends before Anita gets there.

That story is sequeled later by the one entry here that I really didn't like: "#13: Sandpiper." In "#7", in order to hide her truancy from Granny, Anita constructs a simulacrum of herself from sand. The premise of "#13" is that Anita forgot to deconstruct the simulacrum afterwards, and now it has turned up on the doorstep of the Thompson cottage in Northamptonshire. And its attitude toward the witch who abandoned it is not admiring. So far so good for the story; but the resolution is hardly above the level of a smutty joke, and a pretty sexist one at that. This clashes harshly with one of the reasons the rest of the stories are so charming: Anita's cheerful enthusiasm for the opposite sex has an innocence that's the opposite of smutty. (A much better but more remotely linked follow-on to "#7" is "#15: The Mayday".)

Several of the pieces here are, though, full-blown stories rather than mere series entries. I especially liked "#3: Outpatient" (Anita expels the asthma from a small boy through helping him escape the attitudes of his overcautious mother and introducing him to a world of wonder), "#12: Cousin Ella Mae" (Anita's US cousin arrives, proves to be as much of a babe as Anita herself, and helps clear the ghosts out of a to-be-demolished medieval pub), and the final tale, "#16: The Checkout" (Anita becomes infatuated with and assists a supermarket checkout clerk who is lost in love for a married man far older than she is), which I believe is unique to the Owlswick edition.

All in all, a worthy purchase: recommended. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
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The Millington edition (0860000702) contains the stories:

The Witch



The Simple for Love

The Charm

The Familiar

The Jennifer

The Middle Earth

The War at Foxhanger

Idiot's Lantern


Cousin Ella Mae


Junior Partner

The Mayday

The Owlswick Press edition (0913896276) contains all the above stories plus an introduction and an extra story:

The Checkout

The Gateway edition (978075104266) has the same stories as the Millington edition.
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