A year of marvellous ways- Sarah Winman

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This is one of those books that I found myself enjoying-despite myself. That’s because at times it felt like you could see that the author was trying too hard to write a whimsical story. That she was pushing the magical realism a little too hard, and at times the plot is perfectly predictable.

At the same time, it was a charming read. That’s why I enjoyed it despite myself, because even though I could see through all the literary ploys, I allowed myself to be captivated at castaway with the gypsy, Marvellous, who nurses a spiritually-broken soldier back to physical and mental health.

Set in Cornwall just after the Second World War, this is the history of Marvellous Ways, a gypsy whose mother, she believes was a mermaid, and Francis Drake, a shunned lover and fatherless soldier who’s been left broken by life.

It’s a sweet and easy read, worth it if you want a story that you’ll enjoy, but through which you don’t have to think too much. I paired this with the equally sweet and charming Altydgedacht Pinotage.

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Maus-Art Spiegelman

 

I can’t say I’ve ever read an entire comic book in my life, let alone a Pulitzer Prize winning one, yet I flew through this harrowing true story of survival.

Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman and his survival of the Second World War and Auschwitz, as told by his son, years later in New York. The author, Art, is currently the contributing editor and artist for the New Yorker, and he uses his talents for drawing to retell the trauma his father went through, while trying to exercise his own demons relating to his relationship with his parents, and particularly his mothers suicide.   

This dark story is constructed with postmodern flair, with the artist assuming the mask of a mouse, and often referring back to himself, his illusion and the process of drawing the cartoon. Yet he gently guides the reader through war torn Poland through the eyes of his aging father.

The story is poignant and powerful, not for the faint of heart but without a doubt worth the challenge of reading it. I paired this with the glorious Plaisir De Merle 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.