Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud

Mr. Mac and Me

From Goodreads

It is 1914, and Thomas Maggs, son of the local publican, lives with his parents and sister in a village on the Suffolk coast. He is the youngest child, and the only son surviving. Life is quiet-shaped by the seasons, fishing and farming, the summer visitors, and the girls who come from the Highlands every year to gut and pack the herring.

Then one day a mysterious Scotsman arrives. To Thomas he looks like a detective in his black cape and felted wool hat, puffing on his pipe like Sherlock Holmes. Mac is what the locals call him when they whisper about him. And whisper they do, for he sets off on his walks at unlikely hours and stops to examine the humblest flowers. He is seen on the beach, staring out across the waves as if he's searching for clues. But Mac isn't a detective, he's the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and together with his artist wife, they soon become a source of fascination and wonder to Thomas.

Yet just as Thomas and Mac's friendship begins to blossom, war with Germany is declared. The summer guests flee and are replaced by regiments of soldiers, and as the brutality of war weighs increasingly heavily on this coastal community, they become more suspicious of Mac and his curious ways.

In this story of an unlikely friendship, Esther Freud paints a vivid portrait of the home front during World War I, and of a man who was one of the most brilliant and misunderstood artists of his generation.
My thoughts

4.5 stars. I reserved this book from my local Library after having read a friends review.

This was a very well written gentle tale about Thomas Maggs, his famiily and the Macs (Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife), set around the period of the First World War. This book tells a fictional account of what might have happened in this small Suffolk village. Esther Freud researched this book well and is said to have rewritten it when certain facts came to light.

Thomas Maggs doesn't have an easy life, the only surviving son of the local Publican and his wife. He comes across as a loner and has few friends his age. As the Macs arrive in the village, Thomas strikes up a friendship with them both.

At times Thomas comes across as naive, but he is only a young teenager. He takes people at face value and isn't as suspicious of people as some of his elders are.

I really enjoyed this tale and the relationship between Thomas and the Macs. It's the first book I've read by this Author and I will be looking out for her other books in due course.

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