Modern Lit: Fairy Tale, by Alice Thomas Ellis

4.0 out of 5 stars Eloise’s baby


Eighteen year old Eloise, under the influence of her New Age-y friend Moonbird, chucks life and budding career in London, to share a cottage in “deepest Wales” with her boy friend Simon. Eloise whiles away her days making Victorian style night dresses from linen and antique lace, while Simon casts about for a job as a carpenter. It isn’t long before communing with nature becomes a lonely business, and when Eloise begins wishing for a baby, Simon panics and phones her mother, Clare, to come up from London to talk some sense into her.

What ensues is droll satire, as the family come together at the cottage of doom. Strange things begin to happen: visits from four men in business suits, needles pricking fingers, confusing meetings with shepherds and game keepers, and, oddest of all, the arrival of a  precocious newborn baby with silver hair and pale green eyes. Author Ellis cleverly intermingles elements of ancient Welsh fairy and folk lore with the issues of the mid 1990’s, peppering the tale with terse, understated, yet comically witty dialogue; her particular targets are over-the-top feminism and New Age platitudes. The fairies in this book do not fly around sprinkling pixie dust, but they are fond of  eating meat, lots of it.

Quirky, amusing, and very enjoyable.

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