It’s the sort of book that once you turn the last page, you feel you ought to turn to the first and begin again. The themes are so big, the thoughts so anything but little, that I wonder what I’ve missed in the first time through.
There’s Destiny, for one thing. War and death. Love. Ideas like that, any one of which could consume a whole novel all by itself. But Crowley has them crowded up together, banging against each other making them all Somehow related, and at the same time he strings us along at a carefully measured pace of his own. There is no hurry to get where he is going.
And even if we get there, wherever that may be, we find such an inter-connectedness that we may very well be back where we first started. It’s Brother North-Wind’s Secret: after Winter comes Spring, and after Spring comes Winter, in an endless cycle of birth and rebirth.
It turns out that Edgewood is the door, through which one must go, but it is also the way back. For one generation follows another; after Violet and John Drinkwater, come Daily Alice and Smoky Barnable, and their children behind them. They have tarot cards to guide them, and faeries to distract them, but still they must live the Tale as we all must do.
Poor Auberon leaves home for the City to find his fame and fortune. What he finds is beautiful Sylvie and a broken heart. He lives scandalously, and when he returns only his father is surprised to see him. There is mention of killing the fatted calf, and we’re instantly reminded of the Prodigal Son, whom rather than being turned away is received home with open arms.
Sophie’s daughter with George Mouse is a changeling; she has been stolen away by the faeries, but she, too, returns home to open arms. What healing takes place when the lost daughter is reunited with her mother after years of separation. Perhaps, in Crowley’s observations of family, it is not so faerie-like after all.
Daily Alice walks to the river first, and we’re never quite sure what becomes of her after she crosses over. Smoky, always left out no matter how well loved he is, follows. And so the family banquet becomes a wake first, to honor him. Each one of us has his own path. Ultimately, we walk it alone.
And so, before I go, a final question that Tom and I briefly touched on in the middle of the month. Do you think the Tale is just for the Drinkwaters? Or, are we all living it ourselves? I welcome your thoughts and ideas on this most magical book.