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Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary Paperback – February 15, 2016
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In Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, Pamela Dean explores the life of 15-year-old Gentian (the middle of the three titular sisters)--the homework, the Halloween parties with her best friends, the spats with elder sister Juniper. Gentian is a student at an "open" high school, and her telescope and astronomical observations are her paramount interests. Then her well-ordered days are disturbed by traces of a mystery. A house suddenly appears next door, complete with a darkly handsome boy who speaks only in quotations. Is he interested in Gentian, or Juniper, or even Rosemary? The final conflict of the book involves a time machine in the attic and unfurls with a hallucinogenic intensity. In her first series, which started with Secret Country, Dean depicted an absorbing fantasy world with an old-fashioned flavor. Here, she shows herself to be a careful, highly controlled writer with a thorough knowledge of the heart of a gifted teenager. --Blaise Selby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Retelling traditional Scottish ballads (as she does here and did in Tam Lin), Minneapolis-based contemporary fantasist Dean can spin a wicked little spell. Her latest novel starts gently, as an odd new family suddenly builds a tacky red vinyl-sided ranch house next to a charming old Twin Cities Victorian. Dean draws each of three young daughters who live in the Victorian into the orbit of their handsome, mysterious neighbor, Dominic. Juniper, giddy at 16, falls rapidly toward and away from his charms. Rosemary, a fractious 11, suspects he's selling drugs, not dreams. Fourteen and on the troublesome cusp of adolescence, practical amateur astronomer Gentian turns into Dominic's adoring satellite, losing her cat, her friends and months of her stargazing time to his enigmatic company. Before the tale spirals down to a satisfying surprise ending, Dean makes the quirky world of today's teenage girls and their well-meaning but bemused parents utterly convincingAand does so without so much as a smidgen of smarm, subtly illuminating that eternal parental moan: What on earth does she see in him?
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I didn't like JG&R as much as Tam Lin, though. For starters, I didn't feel like we got to know Gentian and her friends and family as well as we got to know Janet's circle; I wanted to know more about these people, but I always felt a little like a spectator. Then, I couldn't understand why Gentian liked Dominic. Hormones or no, beauty or no, any self-respecting girl would have become annoyed with him when she noticed that he almost NEVER said anything but quotes (people say the other characters quote too much, but it was Dominic who truly crossed the line). And the annoyance would have turned to revulsion when he made the racist comments about her friend Alma. I just don't buy into Gentian's continuued fascination with him. I would have disliked him intensely. Finally, I agree with the reviewer below who says the ending is unfair to Gentian; she is the one who defeated the evil, but it seems like she is punished rather than rewarded for it.
I had read the relevant ballad, "Riddles Wisely Expounded", before reading JG&R. I'm not sure whether that had a good or bad effect on my reading experience. On one hand, the denouement probably would have made less sense to me if I hadn't read the ballad; on the other hand, it was a spoiler of sorts. I would certainly recommend reading the ballad after reading the book, just to make sense of things. _Tam Lin_ contained a copy of its ballad; I wish this book did as well.
One more comment on Dominic's quoting: Though it made him an extremely annoying character, I did like the possible implications of that move by Dean. If Dominic is in fact the mythological personage he is implied to be, it's tantalizing to think that he is just made up of the thoughts of human beings, accumulated over the years, and has no existence outside of the human imagination. That aspect of the story will definitely stick in my mind for a long time.