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Marissa Lingen

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Joan Aiken [Feb. 21st, 2013|06:41 am]
Marissa Lingen
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I know some of you read Joan Aiken. If I was to read something of hers that was not a Wolves book, not about a pet raven, and not a Jane Austen homage/continuation, what would I start with? (To be clear, I have liked the Wolves books and had no particular objection to Arabella or her raven. But then I'm left with this sort of largeish mass of things, and I don't know how highly variable she gets.)
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2013-02-21 01:31 pm (UTC)
If I were you, I'd start with If I Were You.

You would probably also like the Armitage stories, collected in The Serial Garden. I started reading them to Hiranu's daughter last month, to our mutual delight.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-21 01:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I did like The Serial Garden! Yes, thanks. I will look for If I Were You.
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[User Picture]From: tool_of_satan
2013-02-21 03:46 pm (UTC)
I think many of her other children's stories were also very good. I don't think there has been a recent collection of them, but there are lots of old ones floating around. Small Beer did follow up The Serial Garden with a collection of her adult fiction, which is fine, but I don't think quite as good overall.
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[User Picture]From: merriehaskell
2013-02-21 06:07 pm (UTC)
I was also going to rec If I Were You.
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[User Picture]From: shana
2013-02-21 02:21 pm (UTC)
A Cluster of Separate Sparks was my favorite when I was on a Joan Aiken reading binge. [Note: that was some time ago, so I haven't checked for the Suck Fairy.]
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-21 02:27 pm (UTC)
Ah good, the library has that one.
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[User Picture]From: bootstrapmaggie
2013-02-23 01:14 am (UTC)

I second that motion

A Cluster of Separate Sparks is one of my favorite books ever. It survives re-reading and umpteen re-readings. Other favorites are The Crystal Crow, The Embroidered Sunset, and Beware of the Bouquet. Castle Barebane and The Weeping Ash are also excellent.

I really can't stand the Jane Austen continuation/etc. books she wrote. For what that's worth.

Enjoy!

Maggie
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-24 01:25 pm (UTC)

Re: I second that motion

I am really not interested in the Jane Austen continuation things at the moment, so having that confirmed is no hardship.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2013-02-21 04:01 pm (UTC)
She's certainly pretty varied - you know there are gothic romances and fairly standard thrillers in that largeish mass, don't you? Some of which are better than others (I'm very fond of The Embroidered Sunset, but that may just be me), quirte apart from any preferences you may have as to genre. The short stories probably are some of her best work (and if you don't like one, you may like the next one better) so that seems a sound recommendation. (Her website seems unusually informative.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-21 10:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, the genre variability was part of why I asked, hoping that people would say things like "X is a good Y."
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[User Picture]From: roadnotes
2013-02-21 05:44 pm (UTC)
I am oddly partial to the collection of quiet horror stories, A Touch of Chill; it's odd comfort reading, perhaps, but the tone reminds me of Shirley Jackson.
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[User Picture]From: finnyb
2013-02-21 06:32 pm (UTC)
I am probably not much help, as the only work of hers I've read is Midnight is a Place, which is really rather dark and disturbing in some regards. I read it every few years or so.
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[User Picture]From: aedifica
2013-02-21 09:05 pm (UTC)
If you can find it, my very favorite short story collection of hers is Not What You Expected.

I also liked Midnight Is A Place, and for some reason I'm not wired to find her horror stories horrifying, so I find A Touch of Chill good too.

There's also a very short series called something like Go Saddle the Sea and Go Bridle the Wind, which I read long enough ago that I remember nothing else about them, but they didn't have wolves or ravens.

I've hardly read any of her stuff for adults, but I can give a general recommendation for anything children's or YA.

And now I have to go look for If I Were You, because I hadn't heard of it!

P.S. Yay for being able to edit comments to fix HTML fails.

Edited at 2013-02-21 09:05 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ethelmay
2013-02-22 01:04 am (UTC)
Jo Walton blogged about it on Tor, I'm almost sure... *looks about* ... ah, here: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/09/two-young-ladies-joan-aikens-deception

I'm very fond of Midnight Is a Place, too.
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2013-02-22 05:32 am (UTC)
Go Saddle The Sea, Bridle the Wind and In the Teeth of the Gale are about a couple of teenagers going across Spain and hiding from various armies during one of the Napoleonic wars. Neither of them is disguised as a bear.

And now I have to go look for If I Were You, because I hadn't heard of it!

Somerville has a copy at the west branch of the library! It's almost in your hands already!
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-22 01:38 pm (UTC)
Neither of them is disguised as a bear.

Well, I'm told one can't have everything.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-24 01:25 pm (UTC)
I think the pushed end of Gothic Romances would probably be better for me. The 35-year-old post-Gothic Gothic sounds interesting.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2013-02-23 02:39 pm (UTC)
I second her gothics. My favorite is The Ash Tree, which is seriously messed up. A disturbing book about an abused wife who travels to the far east. It's not so much that I like this book as it stuck so deeply in my memory. It's very much messing with the genre.

But I think her ghost stories are some of her best work. There are a number of collections: Whisper in the Night; Fit of Shivers; Creepy Company. In fact she and Edith Wharton write very similar, subtle, kinds of ghostly tales.

And I'm a big fan of her much ignored Bridle the Wind series about a boy shipwrecked in Spain during the Napoleonic wars.

But if I could only recommend one book to someone who already enjoyed her work, I think it would be The Haunting of Lamb House, about living in the house previously occupied by E.F. Benson and William James. It has one of my all time favorite theories of ghostly resonance.

Now I'm sad that I gave away all the cheap paperbacks I collected of her gothics.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-24 01:25 pm (UTC)
You were one of the people I was thinking of. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2013-02-24 03:39 pm (UTC)
I haven't been checking into LJ every day, or even every week. But you are one of the reasons I still check in!
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-02-24 03:40 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks! I'm glad to see your posts, too.
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