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El Fin De Mi Vida/ the Limits of Enchantment…

El Fin De Mi Vida/ the Limits of Enchantment (Spanish Edition) (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Graham Joyce

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Title:El Fin De Mi Vida/ the Limits of Enchantment (Spanish Edition)
Authors:Graham Joyce
Collections:Your library, Leído

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The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce (2005)


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Set in the 1960s in a rural village in England, “The Limits of Enchantment” is the story of Fern, a teenage girl who has learned midwifery and herbal medicine from Mammy, the woman who raised her. When one of Mammy’s cases turns out badly, the village turns against her and she ends up hospitalized after being attacked. Fern, who has been utterly dependent on Mammy, must learn who she is, both as a woman and as a witch.

Fern is naïve and socially awkward and it is a fascinating to read about her stumbling journey into adulthood. The author makes a compelling observation about how the changes in culture are encroaching on “the old ways,” most notably in the clash between modern medicine and the methods Fern has learned from Mammy. Midwifery has been brought under legislation, and practioners are required to obtain a license from the government. Fern struggles to accept this, while also clinging to the more mystical lifestyle she learned from Mammy.

I had two problems with this book. First, there is very little plot development. I finished the book with the feeling that I was still waiting for something to happen. Second, I don’t understand why this is classified as fantasy or why it was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. It comes down to a question of whether one believes witchcraft is real or unreal. Witchery as practiced by Fern and Mammy is a way of life embraced by many, including people I know, so I had difficulty accepting this book as fantasy and felt the book did not deliver what was promised.

Despite my disappointment with “The Limits of Enchantment,” I did come away from the book with a sense that the author is talented, so I plan to read some of his other work. ( )
  Her_Royal_Orangeness | Jul 18, 2013 |
Turned out to be a rather ho-hum read. An orphan, Fern, brought up by an herbalist in a little village learns that life is rife with prejudice against all who might be different. She continues to help some of the villagers with herbal cures and potions, and even takes a course in midwifery in her attempt to gain a certificate that will allow her to legally practice what she's already helped her Mammy on on multiple occasions.

When Mammy is taken to the hospital, Fern has to learn who to trust, who to avoid, who her friends and enemies are, and more importantly ... figure out if she has the 'calling' or if she's going crazy.

I thought this a rather choppy read and I was tempted to chuck it a few times. ( )
  cameling | Nov 15, 2010 |
This is a very interesting book, which is hard to characterise. It's the mid-1960s, and Britain is changing. This book focuses on one of the changes which has been chewed over less than most others - increasing bureaucratisation/standardisation of life. Oh dear, that sounds incredibly dull, but it is anything but!

Fern is the daughter of a hedgerow healer and traditional midwife, Mammy Cullen. With the arrival of the NHS - and especially, free and formally-trained midwives for every pregnant woman - some of her work has dried up, although there are folk who still trust the old ways. Mammy may also be a witch ("we few"). When Mammy takes to her sickbed after a treatment apparently goes wrong, Fern knows that she has to make a decision - to follow the old, traditional ways, or to fit in with the new. But there are obstacles on both sides as well as benefits - the old feudalistic snobbery and the new uncaring bureaucracy.

A good read. ( )
  wandering_star | Jun 2, 2010 |
I’m quite a fan of Graham Joyce and his writing. He really knows how to suck you into the worlds he creates. His are novels that tend to straddle the “genre” divide. You could as easily class them under general fiction as under fantasy. And I’m sure some genre snobs would never think of him as a fantasy writer. Me, I see the teeniest bit of magic and it is going under sff. This novel, The Limits of Enchantment, is set in rural England in the 1960’s, when modern medical practices are taking over the role traditionally held by women like Mammy Cullen. Some may call her a witch, others might refer to her as a wisewoman, but for those in her village she is someone to turn to in times of need, but also to fear. Fern, her adopted daughter, grows up learning all about herbs and sayings, midwifery and natural remedies. But at the same time is sheltered from the changing atmosphere of the times. No swinging sixties for her. Joyce is a master story-teller; but while I thoroughly enjoyed this novel it doesn’t really linger the way some others have. I liked the character of Fern, she was so full of knowledge and yet so innocent at the same time. And Mammy Cullen was a character and a half. But for some reason, once I put the book aside to do something else I felt no great compulsion to pick it up again. Of course, as soon as I did I was sucked right back in, but it doesn’t have that something that makes me love a book. But I suppose in a way the opening tells the reader that the book is better enjoyed in one sitting, although we have lost the talent of Listening, and so may be distracted, and so the story may not work as well :) There is plenty to make you think; abortion, the role of the outsider in any situation, the nature of reality. But I found myself content to simply experience and enjoy the story rather than ponder any deeper message. ( )
2 vote Fence | Mar 11, 2010 |
I enjoyed this book, though it took a couple of chapters for me to really get into it and the whole "asking" ceremony was strange. Other than this, it was very good. ( )
  ladybug74 | Mar 17, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743463455, Paperback)

Graham Joyce

tells the story of two extraordinary women -- one who was born ahead of her time, the other whose coming-of-age coincided with a time of great change.

The Limits of Enchantment

England, 1966: Everything Fern Cullen knows she's learned from Mammy -- and none of it's conventional. Taught midwifery at an early age, Fern becomes Mammy's trusted assistant in a quaint rural village and learns through experience that secrets are precious, passion is dangerous, and people should mind their own business.

But when one of Mammy's patients allegedly dies from an induced abortion, the town rallies against her. As Fern struggles to save Mammy's good name, she finds communion with a bunch of hippies living at a nearby estate...where she uncovers a legacy spotted with magic -- one that transforms her forever.

A tale of alchemy and tragedy, magic and truth, Joyce's The Limits of Enchantment is a powerful blend of literature and fantasy from a master of the genre.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Everything Fern Cullen knows she's learned from her Mammy - and none of it's conventional. Taught midwifery at an early age, Fern grows up as Mammy's trusted assistant in a small English village and learns through experience that secrets are precious, men can't be trusted, hippies are filthy and people should generally mind their own business." "But when one of Mammy's patients allegedly dies from a potion prescribed to induce abortion, the town's people rally against her outdated methods, and Mammy ends up hospitalized, due to a bad fall and a broken heart. Now the county is threatening eviction if Fern can't come up with the overdue rent, and a bunch of hippies and a woman with hoop earrings with a mysterious connection to Mammy seem to be the only people with any answers. As Fern struggles to save her home and Mammy's good name, everything around her begins to transform, and she soon uncovers a legacy spotted with magic." "The Limits of Enchantment is at once a story of two women: one with a deep past and one who finds her history in the other. It is a tale of midwifery, alchemy, magic, truth and identity."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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