A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman – 4*s

A Year of Marvellous Ways


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 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 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.

The year in question is 1947 and Marvellous Ways is a elderly healer/wise woman living in the woods of the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall.

(Frances) Drake is a broken and dispirited ex soldier, unable to come to terms with civilian life and mourning a personal loss. He sets off on a journey to fulfill a promise, to deliver the last letter of a dying soldier to his father in Cornwall, and literally washes up at Marvellous’s door.

The two form a friendship that is nurturing to both, and in the course of Drakes stay he gains the strength to move forward, and Marvellous relives her past by telling him stories. Her life is colourful and as she tells it, we relive her loves and friendships with a host of magical characters such as Paper Jack and Peace. The imagery and poetry in the writing makes the stories read like myths rather than real life.

I enjoyed this book, but it does take a little time to settle into it and get used to the rhythms. The lack of punctuation means you really need to think about the words and the what you’re reading, but it does become easier. The story is quite literally at times magical and you’re never really quite sure what is real or possibly imagined, but it all adds to a wonderful story of love and friendship; loss and grief, and the healing power of nature.

I received a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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