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Teenaged O – never call her Ophelia – is about to spend the summer with her aunt Emily. Emily is a poet and the owner of an antiquarian book store, The Green Man. A proud, independent woman, Emily’s been made frail by a heart attack. O will be a help to her. Just how crucial that help will be unfolds as O first tackles Emily’s badly neglected home, then the chaotic shop. But soon she discovers that there are mysteries and long-buried dark forces that she cannot sweep away, though they threaten to awaken once ...
Teenaged O – never call her Ophelia – is about to spend the summer with her aunt Emily. Emily is a poet and the owner of an antiquarian book store, The Green Man. A proud, independent woman, Emily’s been made frail by a heart attack. O will be a help to her. Just how crucial that help will be unfolds as O first tackles Emily’s badly neglected home, then the chaotic shop. But soon she discovers that there are mysteries and long-buried dark forces that she cannot sweep away, though they threaten to awaken once more. At once an exploration of poetry, a story of family relationships, and an intriguing mystery, The Green Man is Michael Bedard at his finest.
"Mystery, fantasy, romance, horror, and poetry come together in this classic outsider story with sometimes shocking twists and turns that reveal heartfelt connections.... [T]he action is fast, and the simple prose is pitch-perfect...." - Booklist
"...This atmospheric exploration of what it means to be a poet offers memorable corporal and incorporeal characters, a realistic intergenerational relationship and a deeply rooted mystery connecting past and present. Ideal for those with a penchant for magic, mystery and poetry." - Kirkus Reviews
"Bedard writes with grace and wit, but also with deceptive ease...." - School Library Journal
"...[An] imaginative, gracefully written [story]...." - The Horn Book
"...Bedard takes full advantage of the genre's atmospheric creepiness and sepia-toned timelessness...." - Starred Review, Quill & Quire
"Mr. Bedard masterfully interlaces the real with the supernatural in these passages, evoking a sense of myriad magical possibilities." - New York Journal of Books
Posted May 27, 2012
When her father temporarily moves to Italy, O is sent to live with her reclusive aunt Emily--so that O can take care of her aunt after a heart attack, and Emily can take care of O. In her eccentric way, Emily encourages O to get in touch with her inner poet, and O helps out by cleaning up her aunt's dusty used book shop. However, there is a deeper evil that is creeping in to town...The Green Man was a very interesting specimen since it defies genres. In some ways, it's a psychological mystery, in others a fantasy, and in others magical realism. Its deeper message is to encourage the poets in its readers--though you don't have to appreciate poetry to enjoy the book. I think this book would be enjoyable to adults and budding young cerebrals of ages 10-13ish.
Posted April 28, 2012
I've always been intrigued by The Green Man. Most of the images I've seen of him were of a laughing smiling man, inviting you to share in his mirth. But The Green Man book store is buried, In books (absolutely no pun intended), in layers of dust, memories, ghosts of better days and of the poets of the past. When O's father goes to Italy to research his book on Ezra Pound he sends her to stay with her aunt. At one point it seems like she might have had a choice to go with him or go to her aunt's, Italy would have seemed to be the logical choice for a girl in her teens, but spending the summer in a bookstore isn't terrible either. However, O. is not expecting the mess of a life she finds when she gets to her aunt's house and store. Emily, as her aunt insists on being called, is preoccupied with something and the store and house is in complete neglect as is Emily's health. O. forces her to stop smoking as she can't stand it and Emily has just suffered a recent heart attack. And as the summer progresses, O. slowly transforms The Green Man from the past, into the present, keeping the ghosts of the poets alive, but removing the clutter and dust of years of stasis.
Eccentric is what I'd call Emily. She's a poet, spent her life traveling around writing poetry never settling down until she found the Green Man. She walks around the ghostly figure of the poet Mallarme on the stairs that lead up to the apartment above the store. O. is startled at first, of course there is no one there, but she pretends and goes along with it. Her aunt also has no computer and piles and piles of boxes of books waiting to be shelved on the dusty shelves. O. notes as she goes to fix something to eat, "The fridge sat in the corner of the room, humming to itself and trying to look busy." (Kindle ARC) I pictured this rounded cartoonish refrigerator kind of buzzing with excitement hoping to be noticed. And it works because O. takes over the cooking and fills the shelves of the pantry and the refrigerator. No longer does she allow Emily coffee and cigarettes for breakfast.
The story is told sometimes for Emily's point of view and sometimes O.'s, but no matter who is doing the telling, it is clear that things are changing. They are becoming more alike. Something is up, something sinister, not like a murder or a robber, but something darker that's playing tricks on both of their minds and O. is realizing that she is a poet, that in order to be, she must write. The paranormal aspects of this novel were somewhat confusing at first because Emily is in her seventies and you don't know if it's the ramblings of an old woman's memories or if it's something believable. But it lends a feeling of creepiness to the latter part of the book. It also joins Emily and O. in a bond as more than relatives, they have experienced more than that and they are poets, together. The Green Man is aptly named as "the doorway between imagination and creation." (Kindle ARC)
This novel is very clean. It is perfect for anyone that loves stories about The Green Man, poetry, coming or age stories, three stages of life, supernatural/bizarre stories. So, pretty much anyone would love this story. I thought the writing was subtle in what it was saying, and poetic, but not cryptic. Anyone with any interest in poetry would miss out if they didn't read this one. Just to note, it is not written in verse. Just well written. Soft phrasing. Gentle nudges at what it's hinting at beneath the words.