Terry Pratchett: Dodger

My Christmas treat to myself was to allow myself to read two Pratchett books in a row. And a treat it was! I don’t think I’m alone in feeling extremely comfortable and at home in Pterri’s head – he feels like a favourite uncle whom I haven’t quite managed to meet, and almost everything he writes makes me breathe: “yes, of course, that’s right, that’s how it is”.

There is no cover photo this time because I read ‘Dodger’ on a Kindle. I do not like the Kindle. I was persuaded to give it a try, and I’m glad I did, but all my fears were proved well founded: it doesn’t suit my style of reading, which involves quite a bit of flicking back to check things and even more checking how far away the next break will be. I have to know how much is left. It’s a Thing. Worst of all, I got to the end and there was a strange pop-up over some of the epilogue, so I pressed ‘back’ to get rid of it, and it took me back to Chapter 2 and I can’t find a way of getting back to the end without pressing through every single page. If anyone would like to post a summary of the last page below, I would be eternally grateful!

Not being a prolific reader, I don’t need a way to carry lots of books at the same time, so in future I will stick with the lovely feel and bulk of paper.

So, back to ‘Dodger’. Pratchett writes romance, in a decidedly (and explicitly) Dickensian style. The plot is relatively simple, and for me there was no huge suspense – even the Big Plan was fairly obvious long before it was carried out. But the characters are charming, and the romance itself is sweet (and, I am feministically compelled to point out, involves a woman who refuses to play the coy role expected at the time and takes responsibility for her own romantic happiness):

“‘But I have found that kindness lasts a lot longer than love, because my mother always said that kindness was love in disguise. And, Dodger, where you are, the world seems to fizz. You make everything seem possible.'”

There is a blending of literary tropes, fictional and historical characters and well-known mythology which realises all the promise of ‘The Colour of Magic’, and shows how vastly Pratchett’s skill grew over a lifetime of writing. The humour is light and gentle, and the take on Sweeney Todd is particularly poignant.

I have to say, if I’m doing comparisons, that this wasn’t as knock-out impressive as ‘Nation’. It is very very good though, and I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to read it.


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