This book was recommended to me, and I'm so glad I read it! I didn't want the story to be over. Beautifully written and a very easy read. He also won the O Henry Award. The Limits of Enchantment : A Novel. Fern Cullen, shedding the last of her sheltered teenage years amidst the English midlands in , tells the tale in Joyce's latest novel.
Her voice is rings true, rings close, rings clear, in gorgeous bell-tones that carry the reader effortlessly, buoy us on a breeze, in a whisper. She's learned a lot from her adopted mother, from her Mammy. The passing of wisdom is commonplace in her life. The passing of wisdom is quite uncommon in ours, and few are those who can do so with the eloquence, the grace and the power of Graham Joyce.
There are no limits of enchantment within the experience of reading this novel. The limits of Fern Cullen's life are quite clearly described in her own voice, a voice that's consistently a joy to read.
This is the kind of book that readers will want to read aloud, from the dramatic opening monologue to the closing coda. Joyce's prose is a delight to encounter, page after page. Every paragraph yields a new treasure, a new turn of phrase to be relished. Mammy is the last of the traditional hedgerow midwives in her neck of the woods. She's the woman to whom the other women in the village turn when they find themselves in the family way and need help. She knows the herbs, the rubs, the mixes and recipes that will set things right.
But before she sets things right, before she supplies the solution, she makes a simple demand. She's to know the cause of the problem. She's to know the name of the father. On one side, members of The Few, a shadowy group to whom Mammy belongs, have no use for pharmaceuticals and X-rays, while on the other side, the doctors regard Mammy's herbs and premonitions as ridiculous.
But Fern struggles to nurture some compromise between these worlds.
When Mammy can't work any longer, Fern enrolls in a midwife course and does her best to endure the instructor's condescension and the chilling impersonality of the hospital. She can effectively sense the position of a fetus with her touch, but she marvels at the ultrasound machine. Is there no overlap, she wonders, between these two competing systems of thought? The hippies camped out at an adjoining farm seem to offer another viable alternative to modern technology, but Joyce is clearly unimpressed by their self-absorption.
Their mushrooms help no one; their rejection of marriage falls heavily on unattached children; their commune is laziness dressed up as idealism. Fern must find some way to harmonize these forces in her life that refuse to cohere.
The Limits of Enchantment book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Everything Fern Cullen knows she's learned from her Mamm. The Limits of Enchantment should at last win Graham Joyce the wider audience he deserves, says Josh Lacey. Graham Joyce can be shelved with a small group of fascinating writers - Philip Pullman, Angela Carter, Jonathan Carroll, for instance - who pursue adult themes and ideas.
She must temper the materialism of the hospital, the radicalism of the mystics, and the selfishness of the hippies. It's a challenge that almost costs her her life. This is a strange little novel, full of ideas that are sometimes deep, sometimes vague. A surreal dark-night-of-the-soul climax involving a giant rabbit is particularly dramatic, even if I'm not always entirely sure what it means. But the story is thoroughly charming, in the old and modern senses of that word, and as Fern remarks toward the end of her journey, "Strange can be good.
Aug 26, Suzanne rated it really liked it. Fern doesn't want to allow Mammy to go to the hospital, but it comes to a point where there's little to no choice for her, and it all goes downhill from there. It's very much a sink or swim situation for Fern: she is mostly entirely on her own, despite the advent of a new friend who holds her hand through difficulties and teaches her more about herself and her circumstances and gifts.
Mammy did her best to keep Fern sheltered, for better or worse, in an attempt to protect her from the world, and Fern's circumstances and actions are a direct consequence of that.
Her naivete exists because she knows no better about the duplicity of people and the inner workings of her own heart. She feels that the world is against her, and in a sense she's right, but she finds allies in the most unlikely of places, faces up to her demons and gets in over her head a few times, and does Mammy proud. Fern is a fully explored and likable protagonist, and I rooted for her every step of the way.
I continue to be astounded by Joyce's uncanny ability to understand and articulate the inner workings of the female psyche. If I hadn't read Joyce before and I didn't know that this book was written by a man, I would be quite surprised to discover it. This story is more than anything about secrets and knowledge and the power and sharing of knowledge, of the endurance of love and spirit, and like any of Joyce's best yarns, at the end of it it feels like it's over all too quickly. Jan 27, Rj rated it it was amazing.
Joyce's book is like the first Joyce book I read, The Tooth Fairy a magical tale set in the countryside of s England. The story follows the growth of a young woman Fern, who is raised by a local "wise-woman," Mammy. She passes on her knowledge of the countryside around them to Fern and teaches about the reality of the world. Joyce's books capture a sense of the magic that exists between the worlds of the seen and the worlds of t Just finished reading Graham Joyce's The Limits of Enchantment. Joyce's books capture a sense of the magic that exists between the worlds of the seen and the worlds of the unseen.
It harkens back to older tales of England where fairies, gnomes and nymphs are part of the fields and woods all around. Fireflies are fairies flitting through the night and toads omens of bad luck. While he is identified as a fantasy writer, a nomenclature that doesn't do his work justice, his writing situated in that in-between space between what is possible, imagination, hope and desire.
His writing occupies that magical place between dreaming and waking, when one is not quite sure about the solidity of the world around, and not surprisingly focused on individuals who live at the boundaries of this magical world.
His writing is tight, sweet and lyrical, allowing one to journey through this magical countryside with his characters. This was my first book by Joyce, and it won't be the last. It was an absorbing read with fully realised and convincing characters, particularly in our narrator - the vivid and often naive Fern. Joyce evokes s Britain brilliantly, with a slim patina of hedge magic gently woven into a tale of social outcasts.
I can find first person narration annoying, but Fern's voice was compelling. The Limit of Enchantment is a combination of coming of age, magical realism and social commentary that particu This was my first book by Joyce, and it won't be the last. The Limit of Enchantment is a combination of coming of age, magical realism and social commentary that particularly appealed to me and, as other reviewers have noted, Joyce has a lyrical turn of phrase which somehow elevates the mundane without becoming overly flowery.
I lost myself in Fern's world and heartily recommend this book. Dec 06, Julia rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: lovers of fantasy, creative art. Shelves: magical-realism. This story of Fern Cullen and Mammy touched me in many ways--my memories of my Granny in WV, who only finished 2nd grade, but was very wise.
That's Mammy in this book. She's a midwife, and Fern has learned from her--but that's just the tip of the iceberg of this book.
Joyce uses language to mesmerize--when Fern must experience the mysterious "Asking" to become part of the enchanted world, the sentences read like poetry. The only question I have is about the title--the "enchantment" laid on these women is dark and beautiful, but not limited. One of the few books I really didn't want to end. Feb 13, Catherine rated it did not like it. This struck me as a book that makes a lot of promises it can't deliver on.
I was very drawn into the beginning of the book and found the characters engaging, but it fell more and more flat as it went along.
The treatment of rape in the novel was frankly offensive to survivors and not handled with any degree of emotional believability. This, coupled with the romantic ending that isn't and the resolution that isn't made for an ultimately unsatisfying read. Unfortunate, because you can see the bone This struck me as a book that makes a lot of promises it can't deliver on. Unfortunate, because you can see the bones of a great novel in all the fizzle. Nov 17, Alison rated it it was amazing. I really, truly loved this book. It was beautifully written and captivating - I seriously couldn't put it down.
Even though it was a bit on the shorter side, it didn't lack in completeness or character development. I definitely want to check out Graham Joyce's other books, as I've found that he's won a few awards for British fantasy. The content of this one was rather heavy, but so well written that it didn't feel like it weighed me down. Definitely a fantastic read, and I completely recommend i I really, truly loved this book. Definitely a fantastic read, and I completely recommend it - especially for those who are more in touch with themselves and nature. Feb 25, Saima Nisbet rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-in Set in , it's a story about a mother and her adopted child who have a connection to the land and are wise in the ways that the land can be of medicinal help in their midwifery roles that are threatened by the growth of the NHS.
A village that both seeks help and turns it's back on these two mystical women. The story is a modern fairytale and engrossing to the last word. Aug 23, Pam rated it really liked it. Original in topic and voice, this story about a young woman raised by a lay midwife in rural England in the 's paints village life in changing times as seen through the eyes of its protagonist.
She is suspended in a world in which the first unmanned satellites are orbiting the earth and the ancient practice of midwifery, and finds that she must thread a path between these different kinds of magic.
Jul 02, Lucy rated it it was amazing. I started reading this because I am really enjoying the. I was so pleasantly surprised, I thoroughly enjoyed the witchy, earth focused nature. I did not want the book to end, I look forward to reading more of his books. Sep 23, Rivka Cymbalist rated it it was amazing Shelves: mbc-doula-school-reading-list. Wonderful, perfect book about an unregistered midwife herbalist and her life in the English countryside in the swinging sixties. May 07, Rachael Ashak-Benson rated it it was amazing. LOVED this book! Poignant, sweet, frustrating, surprising, stirring, and very, very funny.
Kudos to the male author- amazing grasp of the female perspective! Nov 22, Erika rated it it was amazing. I loved this book. I got hooked, the characters, the time period, the magic. And I found some of my own magical synchroncities wrapped in this delicious winter read. I am a fan of Graham Joyce's work and when I started reading this one I thought it was one I had missed when it first came out. It wasn't until I was a good half-way through it that I realized I had indeed read it before and had been rather lukewarm about it. Reading it again for the first time, older and perhaps simp I am a fan of Graham Joyce's work and when I started reading this one I thought it was one I had missed when it first came out.
Reading it again for the first time, older and perhaps simply in a different reading frame of mind, I find a far greater appreciation for the subtlties of this book. It isn't really about fantasy magic. It's about real life magic and real life practitioners of magic. Fern was adopted by Mammy, a midwife, healer, and wise woman in the old folk tradition, "one of the few.
Though she is a talented midwife in her own right and well-versed in herbal healing, she knows herself not to be a true believer, not the way Mammy is. Perhaps it is because she can read and write, perhaps it is because she is enticed by the small bits of popular culture that she has access to, perhaps it is that she takes a more pragmatic, scientific view of the world Mammy practices her arts on the edges, not having the literacy skills to obtain the now-required licensing to practice legally as a midwife.
When Mammy suffers a crisis that sends her to the hospital, Fern rides the knife edge between the old traditions and the new requirements Fern has a bumpy ride of it, trying to have things both ways. And Graham Joyce has penned a tale that explores magic at that crossroads between the rooted folk tradition, the hippie skimming off the top of that tradition, and the pure science-based approach of mainstream modern society. Book Pairings: For the midwife aspect: Call the Midwife , the television series and the memoir it's based on, provides an interesting perspective on the other side of this transition from folk tradition to licensed nurse.
Fern was a fabulously thorough character, as was Mammy Joyce has crafted a beautiful story about living true to your beliefs and feelings, holding on to reality but keeping your dreams and hopes close too There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed.
Magical Realism. About Graham Joyce. Graham Joyce. Graham Joyce 22 October — 9 September was an English writer of speculative fiction and the recipient of numerous awards for both his novels and short stories. After receiving a B. Joyce worked as a youth officer for the National Association of Youth Clubs until He subsequently quit his po Graham Joyce 22 October — 9 September was an English writer of speculative fiction and the recipient of numerous awards for both his novels and short stories. He subsequently quit his position and moved to the Greek islands of Lesbos and Crete to write his first novel, Dreamside.
After selling Dreamside to Pan Books in , Joyce moved back to England to pursue a career as a full-time writer. Joyce died on 9 September