By Esther Freud
Thomas Maggs is an awkward 13-year-old with a club foot whose parents run the Blue Anchor pub in a sleepy Suffolk village.
His life is abruptly turned upside down by two events; the arrival of a mysterious artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the outbreak of the First World War. ’Mac’ and his flame-haired wife Margaret soon become a source of fascination for young Thomas, and Freud tenderly explores this unlikely friendship and the parallels between the boy and the artist.
Both have a twisted foot, both feel compelled to capture the landscape around them on paper.
Freud has previously shown a rare gift for teenage first-person narrators and she again employs this to great advantage.
By using factual material about the impact of war on a small community, and about Macintosh’s own life and times, Freud creates a vivid fictional world that lingers in the memory long after the final page.
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