Clockwork by Philip Pullman
In a wonderful interview and Q&A article in the Guardian on Sunday (do go and read it), author Sarah Perry asks Pullman what he’d most like to be remembered for, and his reply is his novella Clockwork. Then children’s author SF Said then asks why Clockwork? Pullman replies:
It is the most perfectly constructed story. It’s short, which helps. I’m very fond of it. I think it works in all the ways a story should work.
I read this novella back in 2008 pre-blog, when was reading lots of children’s books both for fun and to my daughter. So I consulted my trusty spreadsheet to see my notes about it, and this is what I said then:
A fantastic Gothic fairy tale for older children. Set in that old Germanic world of the Nutcracker, Coppelia and the Tales of Hoffmann, this short novel has suspense and horror aplenty in its 92 pages and the conflict is neatly resolved by the power of love.
To finish his apprenticeship, Karl has to make a new clockwork figure for the town’s clock – but with one night to go has got nowhere; Fritz, a writer, has come to the inn to tell them a scary story, but suffering from writer’s block hasn’t finished it … they have both set wheels in motion and this story needs to be wound up!
I loved it to pieces. (10/10)
Just revisiting this book makes me want to read more Hoffman (see my review of The Nutcracker here).
P.S. Also I can’t wait to make time to read La Belle Sauvage having listened to Simon Russell Beale reading from it on Radio 4 last Saturday (You can listen again to this broadcast for a few weeks – click here for info
Source: Own copy
Philip Pullman, Clockwork (1996) paperback 92 pages.