Linnea's Reviews > Tam Lin

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
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's review
Jul 15, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: academicnovels, girlswhodothings, smartgirlsinamerica, fairytales
Read in July, 2008

Okay, my original review is below, but after thinking about it for a few weeks I realized I liked this book more than I thought. It's really stuck with me and kind of framed my thoughts. Also it's that kind of book that reminds me who I am, like L'Engle or McKinley books usually do, the ones I have to re-read every few years or so. I've also gone and read Dean's Juniper Gentian and Rosemary in the meantime and realized that these characters might be friends. They've certainly introduced me to a lot of books and plays and music I wouldn't have encountered otherwise.

This book was strangely annoying, kind of like the Libba Bray books. For one thing, the heroine reminded me way way too much of myself as a college freshman. The book goes through four years of college for Janet Carter, a faculty kid an a small college in Minnesota (called Blackstock, modeled after Carleton). She's an English major who reads lots of kid's books and science fiction, but somehow in her short life has memorized the complete works of Shakespeare, the Romantic Poets, and any other non-modern author of note. She and her new college friends speak to each other almost completely in quotations and she spends half the book lamenting how anthropologists can't write and all modern authors suck. It gets annoying. But for all that, it was fun, a little too much detail about the college life, many descriptions of meals and dorms and campus, but I'm kind of a sucker for that. I couldn't help feeling, though, that I had way more fun, and also worried way less about birth control, with which the book is obsessed. It's a retelling of Tam Lin, though, and surprisingly the author does make a lot of things better in the last fifty pages or so, when the retelling part finally gets going. So on the whole, I liked it, it kept me interested, but it made me uncomfortable and pissed off a lot of the time.
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