A Year of Marvellous Ways is the much anticipated and utterly beguiling new novel from Sarah Winman, author of the international best seller When God Was a Rabbit.
Cornwall, 1947. Marvellous Ways is a 90-year-old woman who's lived alone on a remote creek for nearly all her life. Recently she's taken to spending her days sitting on a mooring stone 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 war. He's agreed to fulfil a dying man's last wish and hand deliver a letter to the man's father in Cornwall. But Drake's journey doesn't go to plan and sees him literally wash up in Marvellous' creek, broken in body and spirit.
When Marvellous comes to his aid, an unlikely friendship grows between the two. Can Drake give Marvellous what she needs to say good-bye to the world, and can she give him what he needs to go on?
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Oh what a book, what a story.
- Mrs S.
Go with the flow!
Sarah Winman's 'When God was a Rabbit' had a huge following when it was published in 2011, and her new novel shares the same kind of story-telling rooted in reality. But it's a reality into which magic and mysticism ebb and flow - like the tide in which the mermaid mother of Marvellous Ways lived (and died when she was shot in mistake for a basking seal).
Marvellous Ways - even her name is one of the book's many playful games with words - is 89 years old at the beginning of the story. She is sitting by a Cornish creek with a telescope waiting. Waiting for what? She has spent her life living alone, hanging on 'like a limpet' , waiting for some kind of completion. It's 1947 and a young soldier Francis Drake who had lived through the battlefields of France has a letter to deliver to the father of another young soldier he watched die. Together both Marvellous and Francis achieve some kind of regeneration.
The lives of Francis, Marvellous and the bereaved father are teased out in waves of flashbacks which are an always intriguing mix of sharp reality, striking imagery, lulling rhythms and fantasy.
Sarah Winman reads the novel herself. Authors aren't always the best narrators of their own work, but here it is absolutely right. Because the words are hers, she knows exactly how to weight them and guide the listener through the magic. You can really believe that she is Marvellous.
- Rachel Redford