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FF6666: orphan going offroad towards home

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The Ropemaker: 01/28/19

The Ropemaker

The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson is the story of an isolated valley protected by a curse. After twenty generations or so, the magic begins to weaken and those in charge of keeping the curse healthy must leave the valley to find a solution.

Tilja and her grandmother have the job of singing to the trees to keep the curse healthy. Like the protagonist in Paint Your Wagon, the trees don't listen to her. That's the problem. Worse yet, the others in the village no longer believe that the singing is what keeps them safe.

So Tilja and her grandmother recruit a couple others to help find a wizard or someone else who can reset the curse. Here is a story that starts with a village like Brigadoon that has a chance to end its curse and choses to keep it going.

The story is very straightforward. It's like a watered down version of the Hobbit with an entirely human cast. It did however help me realize the biggest difference between American road narratives and British ones. Bilbo's journey is on that is "there and back again" where the goal is always to get home and to get home as soon as possible.

The American road narrative instead, focuses on the journey, and if it's a return journey, only the trip out. Getting across the country by whatever agreed upon route and rules, is the point. Pushing the limits of the vehicle, the driver, and the passengers (if any) is the point. A lot of times, the journey is one way, a way to start over, a way to get lost, a way to avoid other pressing issues.

Two stars

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