Sunday, October 22, 2006

Starting off...

Halfway through Hilary McKay's Caddy Ever After and delaying, because I do not want it to end. That will mean waiting years (forever?) for a new Casson family book.

Odd seems to govern almost everything about McKay's writing. Her characters are quirky, and Caddy Ever After, while magnificent, seems to break all the rules and yet do just what a later volume in a series ought to: it assumes readers know the characters and their backstory and thus spends almost no time on clarifying relationships. Instead, it builds on what readers familiar with the series already know, advancing the family's story and individuals' growth. McKay doesn't, however, follow the series' established narrative formula. Instead of her usual novel told in third person, she experiments with several short stories, each told by one of the Casson children. (I can't think of another series that so blithely breaks the narrative pattern by shifting point-of-view in that fashion.) Nor, so far, does she follow the pattern of making the title character the focus of the story: Caddy has yet to put in an appearance; indeed, she's barely been mentioned.

Other elements remain the same. The Cassons' story is entwined with others'; ever since Sarah and Saffron joined forces in Saffy's Angel, the family's tensions and triumphs have extended to a small group of unorthodox friends. And, as in the first books, finding one's identity, navigating the space between individuality and isolation, overcoming fears, and using the arts and creativity to foster community motivate the characters.


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