Another waffly post, I’m afraid, but at least it’s mercifully short.
I’ve been diverting myself with a quick dip into Terry Pratchett (in a manner of speaking) in anticipation of March Magics; this last, hosted annually by Kristen of We Be Reading, is a respectful celebration of the work of Pratchett and of Diana Wynne Jones who both died during this month in, respectively, 2015 (March 12th) and 2011 (March 26th).
Now I didn’t mean to, but I found myself picking up the third Tiffany Aching book, Wintersmith, even though I’d intended to leave it till next month. It must have been due to the promised snowful in Britain — unlike North America’s recent dreadful polar vortex and a less deadly dump in much of Britain, the white stuff forecast for my part of Wales turned out however to be a bit of a damp squib.
Still, the fictional blizzards in Wintersmith proved some compensation for the relative lack of decent snow in the Usk valley (most of the snow in this view from our window was gone in less than 48 hours).
This outlook is not, I’m sure you agree, as dramatic as Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Hunters in the Snow painting, lacking as it does the hunters and the skaters (the jackdaws residing in the trees by the local church declined to fly up and provide a sense of photographic perspective), but it was inspiring enough for me to eagerly pick up Wintersmith.
I shan’t be offering a review just yet (I may possibly time it for March 12th) but instead I just want to offer up a couple of tangential thoughts. I’ve mentioned before that I’d love to believe that the Tiffany Aching series is a homage to author Joan Aiken’s feisty mite Dido Twite. The hint is not just from both heroines being singularly admirable, resourceful and young but from the similarity of the names Aiken and Aching—in Wintersmith we’re even reminded that Tiffany’s father is called Joe. Joe Aching, Joan Aiken: each one a parent to the child.
Tiffany (12 going on 13 in this instalment) and Dido (11 or 12 in Dido and Pa) also encounter particularly strong pipe tobacco, the Jolly Sailor for the former and Vosper’s Nautical Cut for the latter. Both authors of course were of an age to remember when smoking was a widespread habit, including the use of pipes, though any insistence on the use of pipeweed here may be coincidental.
You want further circumstantial evidence? How about this: one of Dido’s periodic all-purpose exclamations is the expressive ‘Croopus!‘ Now, while Tiffany rarely expostulates, she has a bunch of diminutive friends who most certainly do. And one of their frequent, if not to say characteristic, ejaculations is — ‘Crivens!‘
Anyway, I shall have a bit more to say (don’t I always?) in a review, so I’ll just leave it there.