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Half-time it is, and the best of both worlds: seldom is a book of some dimension so mechanically and insensitively resolved. Joey is the would-be-gypsy who chafed at school and at the Widow Greengrocer's Welsh strictures in The Magic Maker; now it is a year later and he is determined to run away. One abortive attempt results in his becoming a hero, and attention is what Joey hates most; in the first of several abrupt transitions, he makes good his escape--at any rate we find him when he is found ragged and half-starved by the gypsies. Being accepted, then accredited, is not easy (wonderful scene of his proxy christening by a flummoxed priest); neither, as winter approaches, is life on the road. In a succession of disjointed episodes that stifle the inherent drama, the gypsies return to Joey's valley; he dyes old friend Twym's teg hair black so he can go to a funeral; he is apprehended by the widow before he can rejoin the departing gypsies. Finally assured that he can come and go as he pleases, he decides to spend snug winters with the Welsh, carefree summers with the Roms. The glimpses of gypsy life have an unsentimental bite (their credo is that people want to be deluded) and there are some pointed contrasts between the two life styles. But the Welsh story is repetitious and static, and much of the charm of The Magic Maker is dissipated. Then there's that conclusion, too much to ask of either side.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill