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Silver Bough
Lisa Tuttle
Bantam Spectra, 336 pages

Lisa Tuttle
Lisa Tuttle grew up in Texas, where, as a young writer, she fell in with the notorious Turkey City gang. She sold her first short stories in the early 1970s, and received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1974. After five years as a newspaper journalist in Austin, she opted out of a life of financial security to write fiction full-time. In 1981 she moved to London. Her first novel, Windhaven, was written in collaboration with George R.R. Martin. This was followed by Familiar Spirit (1983), Gabriel (1987), Lost Futures (1992) and The Pillow Friend (1996), as well as by three short story collections. Lisa Tuttle is also the author of several non-fiction works, most notably The Encyclopedia of Feminism (1986), and a number of books for children, including Panther in Argyll (1996) and Mad House (1998). She now lives in a remote part of western Scotland with her family.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Pillow Friend
SF Site Review: The Mysteries
SF Site Review: Ghosts and Other Lovers
Lisa Tuttle Tribute Site
Bio/Bibliography: 1, 2, 3 Book reviews:

Upcoming limited edition of Ghosts and Other Lovers from Sarob Press
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

Silver Bough This is the Lisa Tuttle that I love.

Silver Bough is a neat little magical mystery tour through Celtic myth and legend, taking a detour through the realms of True Love and True Love Thwarted and True Love Lost, a story of choices and of what they mean for other people and not only the chooser. There is mysticism and whimsy, following the lives of three American women with vastly different reasons to be in the weird little Scottish town of Appleton.

One of them is a librarian by trade, and a character to whom I immediately warmed after this particular description was attached to her:

"She loved the look, the heft, the smell, and the fact of books -- all those miniature embodiments of other lives, other times. Thoughts and dreams preserved for posterity, to be summoned back to life by the act of reading."
I can understand that. This is my kind of person. She belongs to that kindred that can very easily escape from the reality of life by burying herself in the safety and fantasy of books, and often do so to their own detriment -- and are then woken by something that sneaks in through the cracks of that armour, something that can be tragic or strange or wonderful, and the dreamer is woken to life by its kiss just like a princess in a fairy story.

Another is a widow who has yet to learn to give up her grief over a life that never was and should have been, a love too early lost, a future blighted by an untimely death brought on by accident. She subsumes her feelings into restoring Orchard House, the magical House on the Hill of so many stories, and there succeeds in waking up the tree which bears the magic apples, the golden apple at the end of a branch covered in white apple blossom, the "silver bough" of the title -- and the apple can give her her heart's desire, if shared with a lover. The solution that Tuttle provides to this difficult question is poignant and touching. A heart's desire is sometimes simply... another chance.

The third is a young girl, there to trace her grandmother's Scottish roots... and is caught up in the fairy magic of it all because of the blood that runs in her veins.

As the town gets cut off from the mainland and from reality by a landslide, things grow stranger and stranger (it is a measure of how much certain ideas have permeated our mental landscape -- when odd old shops suddenly appear in a place where they had palpably NOT been the previous night, Tuttle describes one of them in terms that perhaps sit oddly in a book of so much magic and myth that is far older but are nonetheless perfectly encapsulated in the sentences that the shop "...would have been at home in Diagon Alley" ).

It isn't that profound or Full Of Message, but not all books have to be. Silver Bough is just a rollicking good read filled with wonderful characters (watch out for nesting Russian doll fairy grandmothers...) Recommended, particularly for rainy afternoons when you need reminding that there is still magic in this sad old world and sometimes all it takes is cutting an apple in a different way than you are used to doing. Magic is all around us. Lisa Tuttle has done a good job in capturing a small swatch of it between the pages of this book.

Copyright © 2006 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves." When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her international success, The Secrets of Jin Shei, has been translated into ten languages worldwide, and its follow-up, Embers of Heaven, is coming out in 2006. She is also the author of the fantasy duology The Hidden Queen and Changer of Days, and is currently working on a new YA trilogy to be released in the winter of 2006.

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