Book: Away With the Fairies by Jenny Twistcategories: Book, Fairyland, Fairy Tale, Folk Lore, Mythology, Lost Child, Petit Mal, Children's Story, Fairies
Jenny Twistabout this book: When I was a child I regularly would see a sequence of pictures play out upon the wall in front of me. It was as if a film had been projected on to it. The sequence was always the same. Every time I saw it I recognised it and knew what would happen next, although afterwards I could remember hardly any of it. I just knew it was moving pictures and somewhere in there was a gnome. I called it 'my pattern' and I loved it. It was a secret pleasure.
I don't think anyone else knew about this. I certainly never told anybody and my mother had very little time for me because my younger brother was very ill with epilepsy – the fully-developed form with convulsive fits and blackouts known as grand mal (great evil). It was only years later, long after I had outgrown 'my pattern', that I saw a programme on the subject and realised that what I had experienced was petit mal (little evil), a much milder form of the same condition.
This is what Lucy does in Away With the Fairies. She stares at the wall and looks into another world. Her parents think that she is suffering from petit mal. I don't think she is, though. I think something completely different is happening.
I also realise that I have drawn on my knowledge of English folklore, particularly the rather obscure tale of the Green Children, who appeared in an English village one day, hand in hand. They had green skin and would only eat beans. The boy soon died, but his sister learnt to eat a variety of food, her skin lost its green colour and she eventually learnt to speak English. She told her new family that she and her brother had walked into a cave one day and came out into a different world.
If you want to know how these two strands wove themselves into a story, you will have to read the book.
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