The Curse of the Wise Woman

The Curse of the Wise Woman - Lord Dunsany If you are reading the Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult edition of this book, DO NOT READ THE INTRODUCTION!! At least not until you have read the story itself. I started to read the introduction and find that the editor gives away plot details and what I suspect will be spoilers - stupid man!!I will read the introduction in full once I've completed the novel and will amend the above if I find that I've done Mr Wheatley an injustice. Now I have to try to forget the bit I just read so that it doesn't spoil my enjoyment. Shall I hit my head on the table, or use a frying pan to pummel out the knowledge?UPDATE: I'm sure that Mr Wheatley wasn't actually a stupid man, but he did fill his introduction with a reasonably detailed summary of the story which was a massive spoiler. OK, he didn't say what happened at the very end, but the introduction contains no examination of the text, and just a few sentences of (admittedly interesting) biographical info, being otherwise pointless. Anyway, that's the first two pages of the book reviewed.This book is something of a Curate's Egg - good in parts. The first 20 or so pages are very atmospheric and seemed a good sign. The next three quarters of the book is taken up with long descriptions of the narrator's memories of shooting various wild fowl. If your idea of getting in touch with nature is to lie in a field and blow bits of it apart with a shotgun, you may find this interesting, but I found it interminably boring (I'm a semi-rural vegetarian townie, though, so go figure). These sections are interspersed with little gems of Dunsanian fancy involving the eponymous Wise Woman, her son, ruminations on Tir-nan-Og, the Celtic otherworldly Land of the Young, and Irish Home Rule politics. These will-o-the-wisps in the grey mist kept me going - just - to the last quarter, which takes off again and was reward for perseverance.What did work very well was the narrative device of the story being told as the memoir of an old man looking back on the formative years of his youth, interspersing his tale with his musings on youth and old age, and apologising to the reader for occasionally rambling off topic. This I found endearing, despite my disinterest in, if not to say disapproval of, the protagonist's penchant for killing birds and beasts.All-in-all, a mixed bag and a bit of a disappointment, given how much I've enjoyed Dunsany's other writings. Not that it's badly written, of course, but for me this could have been reduced by about half (I'd allow him a bit of hunting, as he likes it so much) and would have been five times more effective.