I had just finished reading A Year of Marvelous Ways by Sarah Winman and goodness it has to be one of the most beautifully written book I have ever read. An absolute favorite and this is the first time where my need to read more things by an author is independently based on my good experience with the authors work. It has never happened to me before. Usually, I depend on critics review of an author. My preference would based on suggestions by reviewers, critics, their popularity and credentials – the more awarded, the more respect and attention I pay to it.
While reading this book, I felt like I finally found something that I personally preferred and enjoyed, also something that I can proudly suggest for other people to read. This book is my cup of tea and Ill drink anything made by the author whether critically acclaimed or not. Sarah Winman is great story teller. This book just oozes with sweet syrupy story telling that gentally flows through a bubling fountain. To read this book is to dip your hand in that fountain and taste something so deep and rich that makes you feel warm and sentimental. But it does not give you a sticky sensation, the only thing I believe will stick is the story in our minds – definitely for me. The book made me fall in love – with life – and made me a believer in love and magic. Its a feel good book.
I know I am babbling on and on about how good AYoMW is , which again I assure you, it really is, and if you find the book, I highly suggest that you pick it up and read it. Okay going straight to it now – so here is a small run through of what the book is about. I am aware that spoilers are a major crime in writing book reviews or even a reading reflection, so Ill give you the basics of the book; why you might like it and also what some might find offputting in the book – which for me, a slightly snobbish reader, I actually thought made the flow of the book better.
AYoMW is a 2nd novel by Sarah Winman after her best selling debut novel – When God Was a Rabit. I havent read her wildly succesful debut novel but AYoMW really did it for me, and I am eager to read WGWaR. She also has a new novel out, released last month titled The Tin Man. I am going to have a real good time catching up with Sarah Winman books.
This is novel about an 89 year old lady called Marvelous Ways who has lived beside a Cornwall creek for almost all her life. She lived a remarkable life alone – an independent woman who planted, fished, cleaned, fed, dreamed, fell in love and swam by that deep and wide creek. She has this very magical presence with her and she talks alot about magic because her life has been filled with so much magic. She collected things and made a home for herself, which overtime, you could imagine it must have become something to marvel at. While reading I can smell the mustiness and feel the warmth of her caravan by the creek, filled with lovely ornaments, antique furnitures, tattered brown books, wooden jewelery boxes, dried herbs & flowers, old glass bottles, sea shells, beads and a few jewelleries on a dresser table with an old oval mirror at the foot of an old cozy bed.
At the 89th year of her life, she found herself waiting for something which she hadnt a clue of what it was. That thing she was waiting for came in the form of a person – a young soldier damaged in spirit by the war, who was out to fulfill a promise he made to a dying soldier he met and very briefly got to speak with before he continued his journey. I have read quite a few books about the great World Wars this year and the experiences by people who fought is similar – they witness the worst and it leaves a lasting impact on them. Drake was raised by a single mum and she died when he was still young. After which of course he recruits and joins the army.
The present day for this book is after the war, when the rebuilding is slowly taking place and life slowly returns to normal with remanants of the way still lurking about in the air. Actually Drake became more gutted and torn apart into pieces after the war when he meets a childhood sweetheart and has a very brief but intense randevouz with her. You should read the book for its juicy details. He found her years later, and she had grown into an outstandingly beautiful young woman. They caught up with each others lives and after a night together, Drake decides that they should just stay together but she disappeares very dramatically leaving him in great shock and pain. He drinks his pain and sorrows away, unconscious of where he is headed – even without a care because the guy was in so much pain, he was falling in love, he found something and so quickly he lost it. All of a sudden we find him washed up on the shores of old Miss Marvelous Ways creak. She nurtured him back to health and housed him by the boat house. When he was back in good health he continues on his journey to delivering the letter of the dying soldier. Obviously he returns back to Cornwall and thus continues the great stories.
Marvelous Ways has some great stories, she is 89 years old and its a great treat to listen to stories of life shared by people who have lived it the longest. There is so many wisdom we can take out of it and it can also make us less impatient. I believe stories from older people can strip down life to the essential stuff for us – what matters the most in life and also it makes us take a sit, be less fidgety, anxious and be more accepting of all that comes our way. Marvelous Ways had a normal father but a perculiar mother. She lost her mum very young because of that uniqueness. She moved in with her Aunts in the city as her father went in mourning and he came for her again and on this great trip – sort of a prilgrimage where they healed and helped people on the road along the Cornwall peninsula. She learned a lot of skills which became useful to her, making her sort after by the locals later. Marvelous ways fell in love a number of times and she talks about it beautifully with Drake and the new girl – Peace, a baker who came back to town to open up her grandparents old bakery. They share stories after meals with sloe gin – the only alcahol beverage being served throughout the whole book. It aids the storytelling I bet. Their lives intertwine, you have to read the whole book to figure out how and the centre of all the magic was Marvelous Ways. They share stories of love, loss, yearning and adventures. I loved this book.
It has a consistency about it. There wasnt a point in the book where I rolled my eyes over some thing in a book. There was a flow. It was like being rushed through a series of events that captures the beautiful essence of life. A week ago I came across a post on Instagram that highlighted the need for great character development in a novel by a Kenyan reader and I have to say that for this book, character development is strong and all the characters are very interesting, even the two who came near the end – Peace and Ned Blaney.
The bad bits, some might consider is the magical realism – magical events, superstitious beliefs and a mermaid in the book – might put some people off. Also the missing talking points “..” to mark conversations, none of that in this book. But as we read on, we get to see how it all fits together and I believe that Sarah Winman is a genius for pulling it off effortlessly. She is a very talented story teller for being able to do what she did in this book, while taking a few risks. When I noticed these I was a bit sceptical of the book, almost never read it but to have picked it up and read it was worth it. I really enjoyed this book and I cant say enough how much I do. So yeah, I am leaving out plenty juicy details of the book but I am declaring my great enthusiasm of it. She is now one my favorite writer and this is a favorite unique book I have read so far. And that was my slightly scattish reading reflection of it.
I am going back to my reading now. Vinaka. Moce!