Plot: Marvellous Ways has been waiting for something. She doesn’t know what, and she doesn’t know when it will arrive. But she knows she has to wait, living in her caravan out in the middle of the woods and relying on nature.
Francis Drake – he’s heard all the jokes – is running. Running from his past and the dreams that were never meant to be. He washes up on Marvellous’ shore and discovers there is more to life than he knew. He needs Marvellous, needs her to teach him how to live. They need each other to be reminded of love.
Quote: `God? Good God, no, Drake. Love. Don’t confuse the two. Love. It’s the only thing to have faith in.`
Opinion: Sarah Winman has an unusual way of writing. I noticed that when I read When God was a Rabbit, but it is that unusual style that had me eager to read her second book. It didn’t disappoint. Winman doesn’t have a fast moving plot with lots of action, but she does have intriguing characters. She develops them in such a way I feel like I could pass Marvellous on the street now and know her like a friend.
As mentioned, there isn’t much to the plot. Three characters are drawn to the same place for the same reasons. They are looking for love, for hope and a reason to continue their lives. In each other, they find the companionship they long for in order to move forward. It’s a warm and homely story, one of knowing where you belong and who the important people are in your lives.
The characters are in-depth and realistic. Marvellous with all her character traits made me smile the whole way through. An old woman with a young soul, and what a soul she has! Marvellous’ eccentricities add imagination to the story, therefore adding a whole new depth to the plot. Drake certainly progresses the most, from a grieving shell of a man to someone who has found peace in who he is. But nothing feels contrite or forced about his transition, it all flows naturally. Peace isn’t as well developed, but she too has a spark about her that makes you wish for her happiness.
The plot is quite rambling; there isn’t always a clear forward momentum although that is the direction it is heading in. Trips back into Marvellous’ past may disrupt the progression, but they didn’t intrude on the flow of the novel, which is important. There was one small chapter, however, where I literally have no idea what happened in it. Sometimes Winman goes a touch too far down the meandering route and the reader gets a little lost.
Definitely a recommendation for this book! I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a novel that will sweep you away, but you can relax while reading rather than a frantic page-turner, then this is the one. It’s gentle, it’s loving and it’s homely, with likeable characters and an intriguing narration.