BRACKEN by Elizabeth Webster


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A syrupy, semi-inspirational gumdrop about the soothing, even heroic demise of an English TV journalist--made possible by ""Bracken,"" a gypsy-lad who pops into being at the ill man's rural cottage. Jake Farrant, a leukemia victim with only a few months to live, leaves his job, his friends, and the city for a small remote village. There he'll make the acquaintance of young gypsy-boy Bracken, who's a friend in need to wounded animals and birds. So, seeing Jake as ""just another sick and exhausted creature,"" Bracken lures him out into ""pearly"" mornings to observe the wonders of flora and fauna; they rescue a wounded kestrel, dubbed ""Sky,"" as Jake learns the techniques of TLC; they adopt a badger cub; then Jake rescues Bracken from death at cliffside. Meanwhile, Jake is nursed by Bracken's sweet gypsy kin--who make splendid soup and sing Romany songs, helping to welcome such visitors as nice widow Carol (she declares her never-to-be-consummated love for Jake) and Jake's grown children, long-separated because of his nasty ex-wife. And along the way the perniciously fey Bracken, ""in a voice as soft and light as a thistledown,"" is suggesting to the transformed Jake that death has a silver lining: ""I'll be part of a dandelion clock. . . or a dragon fly's wing. . . or a worm. . . I'll be part of Sky!"" With a steady drizzle of glutinous sentimentality dampening both man and beast: an icky serving of one-with-nature twaddle.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's