Saturday, 22 April 2017

Book Review: A Year of Marvellous Ways

I decided to read this book because I absolutely loved Winman's first book, When God Was A Rabbit. Her second novel is just as surprising as her first; her linguistic style is incredibly unusual and therefore rather unconventional. Throughout the book Winman refrains from using quotation marks so that the dialogue between characters is laid out within the overall sentences, which is slightly confusing to start with. However as you continue reading you somehow adapt to its unconventional format and begin to forget about it. Winman's writing style is utterly beautiful; her descriptive phrases read as a wonderful form of poetry. I understand that this isn't for everyone, because as a reader her books can be a struggle to follow at times; they are not books to be sped through, they're effectively leisure books, ones to read for pleasure and thoroughly.

One of the reasons why I was so drawn to this novel is its gorgeous cover art; when reading the book its very easy to appreciate how cover visually represents various written symbols described in many of the chapters throughout the book. In fact I would say that symbolism is what gives this novel its power; this is not a novel for everyone. It's an uncharacteristically artistic novel through and through; from the naming of characters (for example: Marvellous Ways, Paper Jack, Francis Drake, Peace, etc.), the view of life from all ages, young and old. At the start of this novel I felt the structure was a little too out there, too disjointed for my liking as none of the characters are officially introduced and the story unravels itself to a degree; the chapters are well written, poetically and gently but it took a while to get into the writing style. Whenever the narrative structure shifted, the shift wasn't declared; as a reader you need to be fully aware of which character is leading throughout the novel as it does change often, and often at a rapid pace.

This is a rare novel in the sense that I doubt I will ever read anything like it again; there is a such a wide range of perspectives, lessons and multi-faceted narratives it was a difficult read. However, I found it a rewarding read as it made you (as a reader) aware of the importance of learning. Miss Marvellous Ways at her age had a lot of life to give as well as a lot of life lessons to teach, Winman delivered her character effortlessly using literal brilliance to do so. The use of multi-narrative was not only clever, but an excellent way of interpreting the variety and vibrancy of  characters; their differences in age, gender, experience. Miss Ways is very special character in the sense that her age and life experience provides her with a maturity and an innocence at the same time. She understands people in ways that they don't even understand themselves. I would describe her as an eternal giver; giving Drake a place to live, space to heal, her time and company.

What all of the characters have in common are two main sources of pain: loneliness and grief. Drake, found and lost a lover, he struggles to regain himself after the war. Peace, a young lady who is madly skilled but struggling to brake into the world alone. There are other character introduced throughout as more and more stories are effortlessly executed, although be warned that this is a novel that breaks the norm of grammatical standards. There are parts where this does feel like an average historical novel, but it is the way that the prose is delivered that makes this novel simply unforgettable. If you choose to read this, then be sure that you're in for a pleasure, but it is a pleasure that you will have to persevere and enjoy; this is not a book to simple be read, as a reader you will need to be invested in the story, to feel the story to truly understand it. I've fallen completely in love with the authority that Winman's words have, which was unexpected to me, as I found this book to be a difficult one to love at first, but as I reached the end I realised how powerful this novel really is.


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