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** My thanks to Josie at Ebury for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

My Thoughts & Review:

I’m sure we can agree that I’m a sucker for a pretty book cover by now, I have no problem admitting that a snazzy or interesting cover will grab my eye and so when I saw The Toymakers I was instantly wowed.  The colouring and images were eye-catching, beautiful and screamed “READ ME”.  Although this book isn’t out until February 2018, I was delighted to receive an early copy to fall in love with.

The early 1900s setting of this book adds to the magic of the tale for me, it’s a time when innocence and wonder still exist in the minds of children, when families would make the trip to a toyshop for Christmas gifts and be awed by the magic within the store, and that’s just what happens at Papa Jack’s Emporium in London.   But to offset this wonderland of toys, there’s the tale of young Cathy Wray, a pregnant fifteen year old girl who sees a seasonal add in the local paper for Papa Jack’s Emporium.

With narration through Cathy’s eyes, we truly experience the Emporium at it’s best.  The wonder and excitement she experiences seeing the displays and the toys really sparked something within me, reminding me of toys from childhood, the innocence and happiness Christmases past.
The way that the toys are described conjured such crisp and vivid images in my head, such amazing creations that I wish I could physically see – they alone make me wish that this would be turned into a Christmas film!

The real story however, really begins when the Emporium closes with the flowering of the first snowdrops.  From here we get to see a different side of the characters in this book, we see a different side to Kaspar Godman, we learn more about Emil Godman, and more importantly we learn the true meaning of the toys made for the Emporium by the man behind it all, Papa Jack.

As the plot moves on in time, the characters mature and in turn their perspectives do too, we begin seeing events through the eyes of an adult Cathy, the troubles of adult responsibility lying heavy on her shoulders as the years have advanced towards WWI.  The change in tone from the childlike innocence at the beginning of the book is superb and really gives the reader the impression of character growth, facing reality of the world around them and how events outwith their control have impacted upon them.
Seeing the way that war played a part in the lives of these characters was so well written, the stark contrast with the childhood innocence was powerful and almost painful to read in places.

Whilst there are undoubtedly moments of pure joy woven expertly throughout the plot, there are also moments of heartbreaking sadness.  Whilst reading I was aware of a lump in my throat, hoping that the inevitable could somehow be crafted into a magical event to change the outcome.  I think it’s a sign of a well written novel that it can pull so many emotions from the reader, and this one certainly did.

A superbly written novel which is in equal parts enjoyable as it intelligent.  The themes throughout make this a book that you can take so much from, there are snippets into the minds characters who survive great sadness, loss, wars.  There are characters who evolve and become shadows, and there are ones who remind you to never forget the magic of being a child.

Now to find somewhere that will make a wind-up patchwork dog……..

You can pre order a copy via Amazon UK

 

 

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