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Thursday, April 22, 2010

'Impossible' by Nancy WERLIN

Received from the publisher

Lucy is cursed; like her mother before her, and her grandmother, and her great grandmother… all Scarborough women are doomed.

Scarborough women are destined to fall pregnant at 18, have a baby girl and then go completely insane. It’s true – because Lucy has seen it happen. She was adopted by Soledad and Leo when she was just a baby, because after she was born her mother lost her mind. Lucy is 17 now, and she still sees her birth mother, Miranda. Miranda is the bag lady who hangs around outside the school gates, she yells abuse at passersby and sometimes follows Lucy home… always singing a haunting tune…

That melody is the key to breaking the Scarborough curse. Steeped in folklore, the song ‘Scarborough Fair’ tells the tale of a woman completing three seemingly impossible tasks to keep her ‘true love’.

Make a magic shirt without needle or seam
Find an acre of land between the salt water and the sea strand
Plow the land with a goat’s horn, and sow it with one grain of corn.

It is up to Lucy to break the curse: complete the tasks and save the Scarborough women, herself and her unborn baby…

Wow. Just, ‘wow’. Nancy Werlin’s novel is a modern fairytale - equal parts macabre, fantastical and romantic.

Werlin’s book harks back to the darker tales of the Brother’s Grimm, as the story begins with a sinister plot trigger that sets events in motion. Lucy is raped, and nine weeks later discovers that she is pregnant. This is quite a dark beginning; but the rape scene and Lucy’s subsequent trauma are written with such honesty and tenderness that you can’t help but marvel at Werlin’s skill and finesse.

‘Impossible’ has a dark beginning… but Werlin does not turn Lucy into a victim because of it. Instead, her rape and subsequent pregnancy are what sets Lucy off on her heroes’ journey. Because with her pregnancy comes the revelation of her ancestry – and the truth behind the old folk song, ‘Scarborough Fair’.

At its heart ‘Impossible’ is a love story, in keeping with the fairytale archetype. There is true love’s kiss, happily ever after and a knight in shining armour. On the journey to breaking her families’ curse, Lucy enlists the help of her childhood friend and next-door-neighbour, Zach Greenfield. As Lucy sets out to complete the three impossible tasks, she also discovers that Zach is her true love…

“What are you thinking?” Lucy insisted.
Zach shook his head. His grip on her hands was as strong as hers was on his. His grin didn’t fade. “Just say it again, Luce. Say again what you just said.”
“About you being smug?” she teased
“No. The other thing.”
She cocked her head to the side. She peeked down at him through her lashes. She came to the same incredible conclusion, but this time she allowed an entire minute to pass before she smiled and said it again. “I love you, Zach.”

I loved Zach and Lucy’s relationship. They’ve known each other since they were children, growing up as next-door-neighbours. But in ‘Impossible’ Werlin tells the story of their evolving feelings – friendship to romantic relationship. Werlin beautifully articulates Lucy and Zach’s shifting feelings, from awkward encounters to heated professions of love. Their romance was the perfect counter-point to the novel’s sinister beginning, and acts as a life raft for Lucy when her world spirals out of control;

They were silent.
Then: “Thank you,” Zach said formally. “For choosing me. Trusting me. And, Luce?”
“You could be having wild hallucinations, and still I’d be looking around for whatever caused it, because I’d know it was grounded in something real.”

'Impossible' drags fairytale and folklore into modern day and takes readers on a magnificent journey. The knight in shining armour is the boy next door. The riddle to be solved can be found in a Simon & Garfunkel song. There’s a bag-lady prophet. And the damsel in distress is an unwed pregnant teenager. Nancy Werlin’s novel is haunting and dazzling, and I loved every page of it.


'Scarborough Fair'

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
For once she was a true love of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Without any seam or fine needlework,
and then she'll be a true love of mine.

Tell her to wash it in yonder dry well,
parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
where water never have sprung, nor drop of rail fell,
and then she'll be a true love of mine.

Oh, will you find me an arce of land,
parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
between the sea foam and the sea sand
or never be a true love of mine.

Oh, will you plough it with a lamb's horn,
parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
and sow it all over with one peppercorn,
or never be a true love of mine.

And when you have done and finished your work,
parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
then come to me for your cambric shirt,
and you shall be a true love of mine.


  1. I saw something about this book a few months ago and promptly forgot about it. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention. I am definitely going to read this one!

  2. Danielle,

    I have not heard of this author - or this book. I am adding it to my must have list. :)

    Thanks for the heads up.


  3. thanks for the review. I think i'll pt this one on my tbr list

  4. Loved the review!!! I really wanna read this book now =)))


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