A magical winter’s tale by the popular author, Alan Garner, best known for his fantasy stories and folk tales. Short-listed for the Booker Prize 2022 Garner presents a wonderful magical world brimming with imagination on every page. A gem for book clubbers.
- best book club reads -
BY ALAN GARNER
‘Treacle Walker’ is a short magical winter’s tale by the popular author, Alan Garner, best known for his fantasy stories and folk tales. Short-listed as a surprising entry for the Booker Prize 2022 this year, Garner presents a wonderful magical world that demands the reader’s attention and imagination on every page. A gem for book clubbers.
'Treacle Walker' tells the story of Joe, a young sickly boy who is recuperating at home when the rag-and-bone man, that is Treacle Walker, comes knocking at his door. Living at home alone Joe exchanges a pair of his pyjamas and a lamb’s shoulder blade for a jar and a stone bearing a mysterious drawing of a horse. Treacle Walker is introduced as a curious healer and the reader is told early on to expect the unexpected as well as embrace the peculiar world that surrounds Joe. We know Joe suffers from a lazy eye “What the eye doesn’t see” said the man, “the heart doesn’t grieve for”. Or does it?’. Accepting Joe's optics and his thirst to make sense of the world, the reader soon appreciates the magical aura surrounding Treacle Walker and the chimney which is at the heart of Joe’s home as well as the ‘axis mundi’ connecting two contrasting worlds. Is this heaven and earth? An explanation of quantum physics? What is fiction and what is reality in Joe's world? Full of wonder and curiosity Joe wants to understand his natural surroundings, venturing out just beyond his home to the moor where he meets another curious character - this time a bog man, Thin Amren. Joe develops friendships with both characters although there is some tension between Treacle Walker and Thin Amren and we accept that he can't be friends with both.
The novel fuses the magical fantasy of Joe’s childish imagination with the author’s own more reflective observations and philosophical thoughts, looking back at his own childhood and trying to make sense of young inquisitive minds. The Den enjoys the surprising style of writing which was both moving and cryptic. As this is Garner's tenth novel, written in his eighties, fans can expect to find 'Treacle Walker' intriguing and soul searching. It is also worth listening to Garner's interview describing his unique approach to writing this novel - deliberately allowing the subconscious to steer his story-telling as well as present the unexplained. Definitely a wild card novel for the alternative reader!