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Tam Lin: Fairy Tales #2 (Fairy Tales) by…
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Tam Lin: Fairy Tales #2 (Fairy Tales) (original 1991; edition 1992)

by Pamela Dean

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,730626,175 (4.03)102
Member:shinigami
Title:Tam Lin: Fairy Tales #2 (Fairy Tales)
Authors:Pamela Dean
Info:Tor Books (1992), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fantasy, faerie

Work details

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (1991)

  1. 100
    Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (Aquila)
  2. 20
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (gwernin)
  3. 21
    Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (bmlg)
    bmlg: common setting of the community of young women facing academic and personal pressures, in addition to an engaging genre plot
  4. 01
    A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (bmlg)
    bmlg: in the midst of a fantasy quest, an engaging, lively, and realistic portrayal of the community of young female scholars
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» See also 102 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
I am almost 200 pages in and I think I am going to give this up. I normally love stories that occur in an academic setting, but this one is so bogged down in the minutiae of college life that I cannot find the actual story. So far, Janet has moved into her dorm room, made a few friends, had some classes, eaten in the cafeteria, and seen a show. There are loads of irrelevant details about the architecture, the grounds, the food, the professors' quirks, her friends' clothes, and so on... of course you want to present a fully-realized world but this is all there is, and it's overkill.
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
DNF at 30%, may re-approach. Prose was dreamy, it just lost some momentum for me.
  ktshpd | Oct 22, 2018 |
I'm not sure of my rating yet; I have to think on it. ( )
  capriciousreader | Mar 20, 2018 |
This is the third time I've read this large volume and both times were before I could record my thoughts. The first time I read it I felt such a huge amount of regret about the way that my own college years went. It was almost a manual about how to stick with a major you like, not one your (graduating) boyfriend likes in your freshman year.

The second time I read it, the regrets went away and I read an entertaining story. But I still felt there were things I didn't "get" in the history of Janet and her friends.

This third time is the charm. I read it with a sense of unreality of the re-telling and the characters. My biggest question was, what 18 year old incoming freshman has read Tolkien, Shakespeare, Eddison, and Eliot and can quote them from memory at a moment's notice? Her relationship with Nick is a bit long for an unsuccessful college-age romance, and I felt the same sense of unbalance in the book itself as I did with Book 4 (or 5?) of the Harry Potter series: the entire first half of the book is her freshman year. I think it was Book 5 in the Harry Potter series where the first 180 pages is devoted to Harry's first *week* back in Hogwarts after Cedric Diggory's death. Same thing here. There is just too much detail on books, quotes, where a particular hall is located and walking over the stone bridge vs. the other bridge over a lack that is a wooden bridge, and which hall is new and which is over the steam tunnels . . . too many details that really remain unused, even at the tail end.

The important part of this story, that of Janet's rescue of Thomas, is devoted to a strong romance of a few months and the last 10 pages dealing with the rescue itself. I would have much preferred an underlying dynamic that is less about Janet and the many books she reads and instead a romance and an exploration of the Fairy Queen that forms a stronger backbone through this huge book. ( )
  threadnsong | Aug 6, 2017 |
I have two bones to pick with this book; well, actually, two bones. One small one with the author and a much larger one with the current publisher's marketing department.

The smaller bone first: I was a faculty child for my undergraduate years, and an English major (along with a block of Classics). Janet's relative lack of knowledge of the university (specifically, the faculty) where her father teaches Romantics (mine taught Hegel) keeps breaking my WSOD.

Of my five professors in first year, I was acquainted with three, not because I chose courses based in whether I knew who taught them (though I did choose sections in two courses by what I knew of them: of the two professors, one I had known for eight years, and one I knew of only by name) but just because one becomes familiar with one's father's SCR and departmental colleagues, not to mention the number of faculty members whose children had gone to high school with one. And all my teachers, all the dons, my head of college, knew who I was.

Janet, by comparison, knows the campus, but not the people. I have a very hard time seeing her as a faculty child.

As for the bigger bone: this book was originally published as an adult fantasy book as part of Tor's Fairy Tale series. It has been republished, and marketed, as a YA/teen book.

This is a book whose full enjoyment depends on things like knowing who Robert Armin was, or what the actual sound of Shakespeare's English was like. It helps if one knows Le Roman de la Rose, The Lady's Not For Burning, Tourneur, Summer's Last Will and Testament, classical tragedy, and Stoppard, or at least about them. These are not things which any plausible typical teen is going to know. (I did, in fact, know these things by 19, by which time I was in second year university, but I'm pretty sure that's not the slot envisaged by "teen literature".) There is no reasonable sense in which this book can be considered as aimed at anything other than an adult audience, and a fairly well-educated adult audience at that.

Overall, though, it's a delightful book, and better (I think) than Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock, although Jones has a better structure, starting in medias res. The disparity in ages in Jones' version works against the story, whereas the undergraduate atmosphere of Dean's story actively helps the flow of the story.

There are two complaints I see about it which I want to answer.

First is the pacing and structure. As Jo Walton said regarding her experience of writing her Barrayaran/Shakespearian Tam Lin, the structure of the ballad mirrors the structure of the book, and is an integral part of the tale: that is, there is a long secular lead-up with the fairy ride coming only at the very end. Not only that, but Dean succeeds in making this book two parallel and intertwined stories: one stands up well with no Fairy Queen at all: it's the story Molly refers to when she says, in response to Janet's "It's only been three weeks.", "If you mean you and Thomas, it's been three years": Just excise a chapter and a half and you have a lovely, Gaudy Night-level nostalgic tale of University and a slowly developing love. The second tale is that of those who have been taken under hill, filtered through naive perspective of Janet: Nick's and Robin's story, one of separation from the world even in interaction with it; and that story has its climax with the full revelation of the unhumanness of the Faerie Queen.

The compression and extension of time reflect subjective experience: the non-routine highlighted, the routine passed over.

There is also the complaint that people do not talk like that: i.e. quote extended (or even short) bits of Shakespeare, Nashe, or Homer in general conversation, To which I must respond: I know such people, and I have been one of them. All it takes is a decent memory, reasonably wide reading, and an appropriate context. (In the book, of course, these elements have a double role). ( )
1 vote jsburbidge | Oct 17, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pamela Deanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Canty, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duewell, KristinaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, StevenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windling, TerriEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This book is for Terri Windling
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The year Janet started at Blackstock College, the Office of Residential Life had spent the summer removing from all the dormitories the old wooden bookcases that, once filled with books, fell over unless wedged.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812544501, Mass Market Paperback)

A modern retelling of an ancient Scottish fairy tale sets the story of a girl whose lover is stolen by the Queen of Faeries against the backdrop of a midwestern college campus in the late sixties. Reprint.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

This Scottish-based tale for adults offers a pregnant heroine who must rescue the man who seduced her in the woods from his captor, the Fairie Queen.

(summary from another edition)

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