Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Lately she’s taken to spending her days sitting by the river with a telescope. She’s waiting for something – she’s not sure what, but she’ll know it when she sees it.
Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying man’s last wish sees him wash up in Marvellous’ creek, broken in body and spirit, the old woman comes to his aid.
A Year of Marvellous Ways is a glorious life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life and the pull of the sea, the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, love and death and how we carry on when grief comes snapping at our heels.
This novel is beautifully written and it draws you in from the very first page. It is tender…subtle… poetic…ethereal…rich. (Just in case you haven’t worked it out already, I loved this book!) The story gently unfolds, passing from one character to another in a manner which should be disjointed, but somehow feels seamless and organic.
There is often something cumbersome about a poetic novel, as if the effort of maintaining such lyrical prose is a chore, but ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ avoids that weightedness, and floats. That’s not to say that this is a light novel, more that it is beautiful, and a pleasure to read. This is a tale of mermaids and messages and taking the time to heal. There is magic within the covers of ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’, but it doesn’t hide from the ugly realities of life.
This is one of those amazing stories that not only takes you on a journey, but requires you to give of yourself to along with the ride. There is a requirement that you put aside logic and scepticism and open yourself to the possibility of magic, but avoids crossing the line to ridiculousness. It’s a fairy tale for grown-ups!
A Year of Marvellous Ways is completely original and utterly compelling and I whole-heartedly recommend it. It is so far beyond my usual reading, but I was lost in it – sneaking in a page while cooking dinner, a chapter while I was meant to be folding washing and it transported me.
I give ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ 9/10.
(Book supplied by Hachette NZ)