The first book I read by Mark Sasse was Beauty Rising, a beautiful and well-written story, so I knew I was going to be in good hands when I read this. Sure enough, it was another treat.
Margaret Pritcher lives alone…reclusively, in fact, to the point that her neighbours think she’s slightly odd. This doesn’t stop them, however, from knocking on her door for one reason or another. In her solitude, she tells stories, the characters of which are her persistent neighbours. Most of them think her stories are just flights of fancies, but she finds two very avid listeners in twins, Pam and Sam, who despite their mother’s disapproval, go to great lengths to listen to them. But when snippets of the stories start to bear some resemblance to real life, the neighbours who are starting to think Margaret is quite mad, start to take a step back and reconsider.
This was extremely well—and uniquely—executed. The stories told by Margaret are ingeniously braided with her own story, Margaret herself a complex, if slightly tragic, character. The novel overflows with poignancy and a gamut of emotions. I like Mark’s style: he manages to paint a picture, be it one of action or one charged with emotion, with simplicity. There’s no floridity or pretentiousness about his writing.
There are (avoidable) editing issues—a good proofread wouldn’t go amiss—but highly recommended nonetheless.