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Book Title: Der flüsternde Berg|
The author of the book: Joan Aiken
Edition: dtv junior
The size of the: 953 KB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: 1980
ISBN 13: 9783423073851
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 1983 times
Reader ratings: 3.3
Read full description of the books:
Not strictly a prequel to the Wolves of Willoughby Chase sequence (our young hero Owen Hughes re-appears around the time of the plot to slide St Paul’s Cathedral into the Thames at a coronation, in The Cuckoo Tree), The Whispering Mountain can nevertheless be enjoyed as a standalone novel. It also adds to our knowledge and understanding of Joan Aiken’s alternative history of the world in the early 19th century, sometimes called the James III sequence or, as I prefer to call it, the Dido Twite series (from the most endearing character featured in most of the books).
Set in and around the western coast of Wales, the tale features elements of Welsh mythology, Dark Age history and traditions of Nonconformism and mining, along with several other typical Aiken themes – such as Arthurian legend (revisited in The Stolen Lake), slavery underground (as in Is), mistaken identities (as in The Cuckoo Tree) and dastardly villains (as in all the titles of the sequence). Although convoluted, the plot draws you along to the inevitable conclusion, and as always Aiken doesn’t shy away from death even when writing for a youngish audience.
Of especial interest is the Welsh setting and use of language and traditions away from Aiken’s usual specialities such as the southeast of England. Living in West Wales, I was particularly intrigued to see aspects of different real localities transmogrified to suit the story and the conceit of an alternative geography of Britain (Malyn Castle is like Harlech Castle transferred to the region of Aberystwyth); and the use of Welsh phrases and idioms (there is a glossary at the end) when characters speak English struck chords even for someone like me with only a passing acquaintance with the language. I also loved the puns, such as the placename Pennygaff which, although it has a Welsh look to it (real placenames include Pen-y-Fan and Pen-y-Bont, literally ‘Mountain Top’ and ‘Bridgend’ respectively), is actually taken from the name for a type of popular but seedy early Victorian theatrical show. Malyn Castle (and its Marquess of Malyn) is a wonderful composite of malign (a good description of the marquess), melyn (Welsh for ‘yellow’, perhaps a reference to the marquess’ love of gold) and Malin Head (the most northerly point in Ireland, famous from the BBC Shipping Forecast, with its 1805 Martello tower looking very castle-like).
And the story? This is the tale of Owen Hughes, son of Captain Hughes of the Thrush and the grandson of another Owen Hughes, keeper of the Pennygaff museum. Bullied at school, young Owen falls in with heroes, villains and bystanders: who to trust with the ancient harp kept in the museum? The villains are often the most memorable, ruffians like Toby Bilk (slang for ‘cheat’) and Elijah Prigman (‘thief’), and blackguards like the Marquess himself. To right the balance there are kind monks, a future king, a travelling poet and his daughter by a Maltese beauty, Arabis Camilleri. The daughter, also called Arabis (a kind of rockcress; also Welsh arabus means ‘witty’) is the same age as Owen. And we mustn’t forget a mysterious Eastern potentate and the equally mysterious cave-dwelling troglodytes under the eponymous Whispering Mountain. Which does more than whisper in the denouement, in an underground version of the famous Devil’s Bridge inland from Aberystwyth.
As I hope this account suggests, this a book worth reading for its spirited liveliness and sheer inventiveness even if you’re not a dyed-in-the-wool Aiken fan. Maybe after sampling The Whispering Mountain you may be tempted to try the other alternate histories in the series. There’s even a chance you might not be disappointed. To add to the delight there’s a map but, sadly, only a handful of illustrations by the inestimable Pat Marriott in the original hardback and the Puffin paperbacks. Later issues, such as the Red Fox edition, include neither map nor illustrations, a miscalculation especially with books aimed at a young adult market but no less a mistake with readers of all ages.
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Read information about the authorJoan Aiken was a much loved English writer who received the MBE for services to Children's Literature. Her most famous classic, THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE has been in print for over 50 years with a new AUDIO recorded by her daughter Lizza. She was known as a writer of wild fantasy, Gothic novels and unforgettable short stories.
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For Joan's life and full Bibliography visit http://www.joanaiken.com/
Joan's Life in brief:
She was born in Rye, East Sussex, into a family of writers, including her father, Conrad Aiken (who won a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry), and her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge.
She worked for the United Nations Information Office during the second world war,and then as an editor and freelance on Argosy magazine before she started writing full time, mainly children's books and thrillers. For her books she received the Guardian Award (1969) and the Edgar Allan Poe Award (1972).
Her most popular series, the "Wolves Chronicles" which began with 'The Wolves of Willoughby Chase', was set in an elaborate alternate period of history in a Britain in which James II was never deposed in the Glorious Revolution,and so supporters of the House of Hanover continually plot to overthrow the Stuart Kings. These books also feature cockney urchin heroine Dido Twite and her adventures and travels all over the world.
Another series of children's books about Arabel and her raven Mortimer are illustrated by Quentin Blake, and have been shown on the BBC as Jackanory and drama series. Others including the much loved 'Necklace of Raindrops' and award winning 'Kingdom Under the Sea' are illustrated by Jan Pieńkowski.
Her many novels for adults include several that continue or complement novels by Jane Austen. These include 'Mansfield Revisited' and 'Jane Fairfax'.
Aiken was a lifelong fan of ghost stories. She set her adult supernatural novel The Haunting Of Lamb House at Lamb House in Rye (now a National Trust property). This ghost story recounts in fictional form an alleged haunting experienced by two former residents of the house, Henry James and E. F. Benson, both of whom also wrote ghost stories. Aiken's father, Conrad Aiken, also authored a small number of notable ghost stories.
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