Monday, 26 February 2018

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Ebury Digital 
Released: 8th of February 2018 

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...

What I Have to Say 

I loved this book so much when I was reading it. But it's one of those that ends up leaving you a bit sad. It was a beautiful book though. Full of amazing things. I love books with this kind of magical surrealism. I love books that take an aspect of life and add something amazing to it. The emporium is a place that you will fall in love with. You'll want to visit and buy toys from it. Until it all goes wrong of course. 

The whole thing with the toy soldiers, for me, was the perfect metaphor for the conflict of the pre-WW1 mentality that war is glorious and the post- WW1 disillusionment that most of the soldiers suffered. It was really interesting to see these two mentalities go up against each other, as they must have done constantly with soldiers who had been to war and people who hadn't. To see this argument be played out over a bunch of toy soldiers was a really cool was to do it. 

I think this is a book that will stay with me for quite a while. I loved the characters so much and elements like the toy soldiers and the paper trees and Sirius the patchwork dog are all things that I'll remember fondly for some time. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for providing me with this copy for review. 

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