Monday, April 23, 2007

Young Einstein

TANGLEWRECK Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson’s first novel for so-called “young adults”, Tanglewreck is a fast-paced, imaginative tale involving travel through time and space and an attempt at world domination foiled by Silver, the 11-year-old heroine.

It all revolves around the secrets of Tanglewreck, an old mansion inhabited by Silver and her conniving guardian, and attempts by sundry sinister characters to unearth the Timekeeper, a clock that gives the owner control of the universe. There’s enough material to keep you wholly absorbed: clever applications of Quantum Theory (earlier explored in Winterson’s somewhat affected Gut Symmetries); a Dickensian cast (Thugger, Fisty, Mrs Rokabye and Abel Darkwater, not to mention Bigamist, the evil rabbit.); and a plot that, despite getting a bit too, well, tangled, isn’t wrecked by any means. (Devout Catholics beware: along the way, uncomplimentary things are said about Popes)

The prose is free of pretension and Winterson doesn’t let ingenuity get in the way of warmth – though some may balk at the novel’s overriding sentiment that the only thing faster than the speed of light is “the speed of love”.

Worth your while? Yes, even if you don’t have an intelligent pre-teen at home.

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