A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

A year of marvellous ways

My enormous thanks to Bookbridgr,Tinder Press and Katie Bradburn at Headline for my review copy of Sarah Winman’s ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ which was published in hardback on 18th June 2015.

‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ is, quite simply, a book of marvellous writing.

Mavellous Ways is an 89 year old woman waiting for something. Francis Drake (and he’s heard all the jokes) is a young man devastated by both world and personal events in the Second World War. When he arrives a broken man near Marvellous’ home in his attempt to deliver a letter from a dying soldier, both he and Marvellous find something they didn’t entirely know they were looking for.

It is difficult to express what a gorgeous book this is. Both magical and mystical, the exploration of grief and longing is completely absorbing so that I felt subsumed into the story rather than reading it. It is fortunate that it is divided into short chapters as I found I’d almost been holding my breath as I read and I needed time to recover from the depth of emotion before reading on. Sarah Winman conveys intense grief, loneliness, sorrow and love. Her writing is utterly moving. I found that I made comparisons with the best of Dylan Thomas’ writing when I read her prose.

The reduced palette of characters is wonderful. Marvellous in particular is such a strong presence that I didn’t just like her, I almost wanted to BE her. She teaches life lessons and we discover that love doesn’t have boundaries and isn’t constrained by horizons.

‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ is one of those stories I shall return to when I need a book to reaffirm the best in life. In the mean time, I’m off for a sloe gin, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why!

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