The Lady’s Not For Burning

Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times

Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean.

It’s probably been close to twenty years since I first discovered this, one of the few perfect books in the world, and I would have reread it every year or two since. Not for five years now, since my last Great Re-reading phase. I would like to again soon, as it’s the kind of book that grows up with you.

It’s basically a love story to a liberal arts college education. I read it for the first time before I attended university and the real thing could never compare to this – to the beautiful stone buildings and dingy dining halls, to the friendships made thanks to random rooming lotteries. To the lectures and seminars about Shakespeare and poetry and Latin.

(by the way, all Classics students are crazy)

This leisurely, poignant read follows Janet, the daughter of two professors, a girl who loves books, through her college years. Here, she befriends frivolous Tina and awesome Molly. She falls in love with earnest, music-loving Nick and hangs out with his friends, dramatic Robin and rude, cranky but ultimately romantic Thomas. She reads a lot of Shakespeare, and forgets to write poetry. She takes fencing, and goes for long walks in Autumn, and resists the pressure to take up Classics, because English is really her thing, honestly. She goes to plays, and parties. She and her friends all sort out contraception, and have sex for the first time.

And of course it’s a fantasy novel, but exactly how it’s a fantasy novel is not clear until the end, in fact a lot of layers of story do not make sense until the every end, like why Robin laughed, and why his name and Nick’s are written there, and why Thomas was rude that day, and who rode those horses, and why the Classics students are all crazy, and what happened that time with Professor Medeous…

Which is why it is a book to be read and reread and reread, though there’s a magic here and somehow every time I try to pay attention to the important details, they slip away like water because there are all these gorgeous other things to re-experience like a youthful discovery of Shakespeare and a paper theatre of The Lady’s Not For Burning, and homemade signs that say Must Take Pill, and first love, and imperfect love and broken love, and friendship that lasts forever, and that other love that was under her nose all the time…

I read this book by accident, not knowing what I would find. Best accident I ever had.

Other Days of the Book Meme:

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)
Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Day 03 – The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months
Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever
Day 05 – A book or series you hate
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)
Day 15 – Your “comfort” book
Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry
Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)
Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book
Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 23 – Most annoying character ever
Day 24 – Best quote from a novel
Day 25 – Any five books from your “to be read” stack
Day 26 – OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending
Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
Day 28 – First favorite book or series obsession
Day 29 – Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
Day 30 – What book are you reading right now?

2 replies on “The Lady’s Not For Burning”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love this book! I read it on purpose, because I have never grown out of my love of fairy and folk tales, and Tam Lin if one of my favourites. Novelisations of folk tales are a bit hit-and-miss in their quality, but gems like this book keep me going 🙂

    I very much wanted uni to be like this book; I guess since I was doing bio that would mean I lived the life of Molly? In reality uni turned out to be both much better and a bit worse, as real life often does.

  2. Looneymoth says:

    That was me, BTW.

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