Days of Wonder, by Keith Stuart

This title is absolutely perfect for this gem of a book. It really is about days of wonder; about the importance of creating magic every day – and appreciating every single moment. It’s a beautifully written story that sparkles with wit and humour. Hannah has a life-threatening heart disease. Her mother left when she was small and her father, Tom, is determined to keep her cocooned in wonder, magic, stories and make-believe. Their relationship is incredibly special. He’s a theatre manager – and his little theatre is at the centre of their lives. But as Hannah’s condition worsens, Tom discovers he may lose the theatre as well. There’s a cast of other wonderful characters as well. My favourite was Hannah’s best friend, 80-something-year-old Margaret, who’s totally outrageous and just wonderful (that word again!). I loved the close, understanding relationship between the ill teenager and the elderly ex-actress. Hannah is desperate for Tom to find love, worried that if she dies, he will be totally alone. His first few attempts at dating, however, are disastrous. I found myself rooting for romance for him – after all, Hannah was right. He had devoted his whole life to her since she became ill. Author Keith Stuart weaves so much wisdom through the book: the importance of choosing your own course through life, letting people go, and the meaning of real love. It’s also about the importance of stories, and the magic of theatre. But although it’s magical and wondrous, this is also a very grounded story about living with the possibility of death – and how this makes every moment count. I know I haven’t done justice to this book in this review – you’ll just have to read it yourself to see how special it is. And then read his first, A Boy Made of Blocks, which I also absolutely loved.

Book blurb:

Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that both of them know will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen on the brink of adulthood, that time is coming.

With the theatre under threat of closure, Hannah and Tom have more than one fight on their hands to stop the stories ending. But maybe, just maybe, one final day of magic might just save them both.

A tale about growing up, the beauty of a special bond between father and daughter, and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you’ll read all year.

 

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