Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

The Flax Flower

Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

The Flax Flower

Article excerpt

The Flax Flower

Amanda MacLean. ISBN 978-1-326-08842-2.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Flax Flower is a work of fiction that retells the story of the ballad of 'Andrew Lammie' ('Mill o Tifty's Annie') (Child 233). It is not the sort of thing that would normally be reviewed in FMJ, not least because the received wisdom is that novels that make use of ballad plots are invariably sub-Tolkienesque pieces of fantasy genre fiction, and are invariably awful. (1) It is a strange experience to begin a novel knowing exactly how the plot will develop and what will be the outcome--though of course that is the experience every time one hears a ballad story. The killing scene in 'Tifty's Annie', for example, is presented with harsh brushstrokes. Those are bearable within the constrained verse environment of the ballad, but they would be crude in the context of prose fiction. Here, the scene here is treated with great sensitivity and, more than that, with imagination. It would be wrong to say any more here that might spoil the reader's enjoyment of the story.

This, however, is not just the ballad in prose. …

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