Synopses & Reviews
Jem McCrail is a fantastical godsend to the timid young Alice Pilling. Like a dropped acorn,” she appears halfway through the week, halfway through the term, and halfway through Miss Aldridges Silent Reading Hour. Through the doorway she barely clears, wearing clothes like the cowshed-crouching urchin she encountered in her favorite P. G. Wodehouse story, Jem leads the stammering Alice into a world of culture, truancy, and bizarreriea world far beyond the desiccated lessons of school. The girls cultivate a steadfast bond based on a wicked and encircling sense of humor, an impish joy in indelicate literature, and Mozarts The Magic Flute.
Then, as abruptly as she came, Jem disappears.
The years and schools that follow, as well as the loversone stuffy but competent, the other a smug would-be Thatcheritedo not dim the image of the wondrous Jem. The disheartened Alice is almost ready to settle when an accident and the intervention of a latter-day fallen angel impel her on one more wild and extravagant journey. At the end her quest will lead her through the portals opening to lifes profoundest joys. Like the opera it echoes, the result is pure enchantment.