Looking for magic

Dinah Birch

  • Lewis Percy by Anita Brookner
    Cape, 261 pp, £11.95, August 1989, ISBN 0 224 02668 2
  • Sexing the cherry by Jeanette Winterson
    Bloomsbury, 167 pp, £12.95, September 1989, ISBN 0 7475 0464 4
  • Fludd by Hilary Mantel
    Viking, 186 pp, £11.95, September 1989, ISBN 0 670 82118 7

It’s not long since the fairy story seemed the least political of genres. Not so today. A preoccupation with transformation and escape, coupled with a repudiation of the sober certainties of rationality, gives its narrative devices potent appeal to those placed by conviction, race or gender on the margins of the cultural establishment. Taking unfamiliar and ruthless forms, traditional tales have acquired new status in contemporary fiction. And we ought not, now, to need convincing that the public reverberations of privately refashioned legends can travel a long way. After The Satanic Verses, fantasy will never look cosy again.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in