A scrapbook of childhood memories, told just in the same narrative style as children tell stories – this happened, then this, then this.
Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, some are both. We see the world through young Alan’s eyes, and it’s as full of wonders as he is full of questions and curiosity. The sense of place is as vivid as you’d expect, and portrayed without nostalgia or sentimentality. As a writer whose work is so rooted in landscape and history, his formative experiences in a very specific landscape (Cheshire) and period of history (WW2) foreshadow the author he became. Interesting if you like seeing how writers are formed (I do.)
There was a discussion on the excellent ‘Backlisted’ podcast about the star authors of children’s dark fantasy fiction who were young children during the war (Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and I can’t remember who else now). The discussion was about how growing up in wartime with evacuation, air raids and sudden danger had shaped this generation of writers and their stories. Themes of attachment to place, peril, loss – and the time-slip narrative too, also interesting I thought.