Some Kind of Fairy Tale / Graham Joyce
This was a bit of an odd read; on first glance at the summary it appeared to be a story of a woman who was taken by fairies, and then returned many years later, only days older herself. The classic setup. And it is definitely seasonal: opening with an unexpected phone call on Christmas afternoon, announcing the sudden reappearance of the missing Tara Martin after 20 years (giving a whole new meaning to being home for Christmas...)
But it was strange because parts of the story supported the reality of her experience, and parts of it seemed to make it all a delusion of hers to explain away a thoughtless disappearance. But those parts didn't fit together. If one set of circumstances was to be considered "real" the other set didn't make sense within the story. So by the end my head hurt. Which one was real? And not in an ambiguous "either could be" way, but in a "nothing makes sense!" way.
I wanted to like this, and I found a couple of the characters interesting. But the main character Tara was a bit annoying, her brother Peter was so-so and his children were awful, her parents were very strange -- her mother wanted her out, feeling that she was strange, this after getting her back after so many unresolved years of being missing? I couldn't buy it.
I liked the parts in Fairyland best, actually, even with the completely amoral, self-centred hippie-commune-like set-up of this particular fairyland. There was a kind of colour that didn't show up in the rest of the book. But the actual experiences in faerie (both Tara's and those of an older woman who serendipitiously shows up near the end) do not make up a lot of the book. Much time is spent instead on what happened to those left behind in the mundane world. I guess that I was just not in the mood for this one when I read it, as I was interested enough to finish it, but not delighted by it. I found that, just like someone taken by the fairies, this story seemed take a long time to go nowhere.