Many many years ago, aged about fifteen, I left my local library (Wickford in Essex) with a pile of books. I can’t remember many books I read as a teenager but one, Alan Garner’s Red Shift, was amongst that pile and one which I fell in love with immediately.
I’d previously read Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon Of Gomrath aged ten in class so knew he was a great author. I didn’t realise that he had also written a book so different and so fascinating that I would still be reading it twenty five years later. In fact, Red Shift is so incredible that I’ve probably read it every three or four years. And I have no reason to doubt that I’ll continue to do so for the rest of my life. In fact, I’m just about to start reading it again and I’m very excited by the prospect.
Although, in the library or bookshop, you’ll probably find the book in young adult, so much of the content of Red Shift can be read completely differently as one grows older. With each read I get something new out of the book. First published in 1973, the story follows three men “distanced from each by time, and isolated from those they live among”: set in the modern day, Tom is cooped up with his parents in a caravan, at the time of the English civil war lives Thomas Rowley and, in Roman Times, Macey is a former soldier living with a group of deserters.
A review in the book from The Times reads “A magnificently mutli-layered novel… and a superbly exciting piece of literature”.