Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World, Signe Pike, Penguin Group USA, 2010, 295 pp
This enchanting memoir is sort of Eat Pray Love for faery lovers. Signe Pike is a young woman who quit her job as a book editor for a New York publisher and went on a quest to find out if faeries are real. I was maddened, delighted and inspired many times over during my reading of this truly modern faery tale.
Because that is what it is, a faery tale in the voice of a modern young woman who wanted to believe in magic, in things that cannot be seen and in happy endings. Signe Pike is young enough to be my daughter (or maybe it's that I am old enough to be her mother.) She is almost young enough to be my granddaughter (actually I have no idea how old she is, I'm just guessing.) Anyway, it was inevitable that she would make me mad sometimes.
I started the book and by about page 30, I threw it down and thought I would not waste my time for another page. The voice of Signe Pike struck me as silly; an amalgam of the tone of Facebook comments, texting between teens and People magazine. I now realize that I was suffering from generation gap.
That evening I spent hours with my youngest friend, a 25-year-old aspiring writer. We drank wine, told each other stories, talked about life and read our latest efforts to each other. I love this woman because she reminds me of my younger self and hanging out with her is effortless. Somehow that evening led me to pick up Faery Tale again the next morning and I read it all day until I got to the end.
I still got mad a few times but mostly I was delighted. I've done my own faery research over the years. I too believed in faeries as a child. I have encountered disembodied beings on an island in Lake Michigan, on Mt Tamalpias, in Ireland, in the Redwoods and in my own backyard. About ten years ago I spent a few months reading up on how to contact faeries and I have always read magical stories, from C S Lewis and E Nesbit as a child to Suzanne Clarke and John Crowley in recent years. As I kept reading Signe Pike, I saw that she was trying as hard as she could to remain objective and not get sucked in to a bunch of airy-fairy, New Age ridiculousness. She was on a quest to find some meaning for her life and to make sense of her relationship with her father who had passed away. She was also looking for hope in a world that seemed to be heading for disaster. I am so down with all of that.
As she traveled to Glastonbury (where I have always wanted to go), to Ireland (where I have been), to the Isles of Man and Skye, to Scotland and Findhorn, I began to feel I was in pretty good hands. Her process of slowing down, learning to let things happen, listening more closely to her intuition and bonding with the various faery "experts" she interviewed, made me happy for her.
And that is all I am going to say because I don't want to spoil anymore of the adventure of reading this book. It's cool and it's real and it's magical. Plus there is an awesome bibliography in the back and Signe has one the best author websites I've seen.
(Faery Tale is available in hardcover by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)