(hb; 1957: prequel to Farewell Summer)
Summer 1928 – Green Town, Illinois. Twelve-year old Douglas Spaulding and his brother, ten-year old Tom, are excited as summer begins. They live in an idyllic town where the elderly are Time Machines, their tongues the levers which reveal eras passed; where “dandelion wine,” the intangible essence of the aestival season, can be bottled and swilled at any time; where a scandalous romance between a young man and an old woman is sweetly ventured; where the town tinkerer, Leo Auffman, sets out to build a different kind of Time Machine (and succeeds).
Threatening this charming idyll is the Lonely One – aka, Death – who is rumored to lurk in the Ravine that physically splits the town in half. The Lonely One isn’t the only enemy on the lurk, for another, encroached in the swing of clock arms, is on the prowl, as well…
Readers familiar with Bradbury’s oeuvre will likely recognize the author’s trademark thematic interplay of childhood innocence and skulking darkness, which bore fuller, more tightly-plotted fruit in his later novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Dandelion Wine is a gentle, episodic work, more cobbled together than written organically. Still, between Bradbury’s prose-poetic writing, and his enchanting moral lessons, this is a wondrous, classic work.
Followed by Farewell Summer.