In Summerlong, a girl called Lionness has uncanny abilities. She smells like meadows, enchants children and calms Orcas. She owns nothing of value and yet she lives rent-free in an older couple’s garage.
Abe thinks she looks like Botticelli’s Primavera; Joanna, his live-in wife, agrees to let the girl stay in their garage. She worries, though, that her daughter, Lily, will fall in love with Lionnness.
Though they love each other, the couple’s relationship is seriously strained when Lionness’ husband comes looking for her at the restaurant where she works.
At this point, the novel makes a U-turn. Abe makes love to Lionness, though its never really clear why. He’s in his sixties and she is presumably in her twenties but actually something non-human, Queen of the Underworld.
If Abe is unfaithful, Joanna, often called Delvechio, wants to do the same with Mr. Mardikian, who is really the God of the Underworld. First, though, she wants to shoot hoops.
Beagle combines the fantastic with the prosaic in such a superb way that none of it seems outlandish.
Peter Beagle wrote his best known work, TheLastUnicorn, while in his twenties.