Review of Ray Bradbury - Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine in many ways is a coming of age story for its most frequently occurring character. The book starts with the start of the summer of 1928. Doug Spalding is twelve; his younger brother Tom is ten. Doug has made an important and quite revelatory discovery about himself - he is alive! And he intends to celebrate and relish every minute of it and of this summer.

Unlike many of Bradbury's books this is not science fiction or horror, or at least not overtly. There are some hair-raising moments and more than one of the stories concern death - even going as far as Green Town having its own serial killer.

One of the most wonderful imaginings in this book concerns and old civil war soldier, and his tale telling, the rapt attentions of the young listening to stories so far removed from their present they could almost be in another country. But this is far from the only highlight, we read of friendships, hopes and dreams, treasured items, and above all regular folk adapting to changing times.

Having a 12-year-old boy as central character helps this feeling of change. Doug is starting to see not everything is eternal and unchanging - a point emphasised by his taking the final ever trolley bus journey to the end of the line and back - with the old track-bound cars being replaced with regular buses. But not all is negative.

Yes, there is a sense of the inevitability of change, but change that can bring new opportunities, new adventures as much as end to the ways of old.

The stories are like spinning threads, weaving gently across a summer in a small American town, carrying the characters in an out of the focus and allowing the readers glimpses of their ordinary yet magickal lives.


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