Kaeti On Tour by Keith Roberts

Sirius, 1992, 320 p

Kaeti On Tour

The same conceit as in Kaeti And Company (see my review here) runs through this collection. In each of the nine stories in the book we have the same repertory company of names for the actors but they “play” different characters in the different tales. An addition to the ensemble seems to be Tennoch, a Glaswegian woman, who pops up in “The Green Place” and subsequently. Some of the stories are fine, if inconsequential, but they are all let down by this extremely irritating framing device. There is, too, within every story a quite prodigious use of the words “leastways” or “least” to start either a sentence or a subordinate clause, which does not just happen in Kaeti’s “voice”; others join in with this annoying practice. Thankfully, this time the linking pages between the stories do not feature any dialogue between “the author” and Kaeti but instead feature only the actors.

The two most successful stories, to my mind, were Kaeti And The Village – set in somewhere like Oradour-Sur-Glane – and Londinium, in Roman London just as Boudicca’s hordes are about to sack the city. Both would have benefited from being lifted out of the context of this book.

In some of the other tales the characters too often drifted without explanation between different realities and/or times, lending the whole an insubstantial air. Had the characters been separately defined this might have been less of a drawback.

Roberts was a fine writer. It’s a pity his obsession with his creation “Kaeti” blinded him to the faults inherent in this repertory company concept.

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