”Poppycock,’ said Miss Fortwell firmly. ‘I believe completely in extraordinary things happening. No doubt about it.”
As with previous novels, in ‘Lucy Willow’, Sally Gardner makes a powerful and heartfelt assertion as to the roles individuality, belief and responsiveness to one another and our environment play in establishing a conducive cultural climate.
Eponymous Lucy Willow is a girl who, together with her pet snail Ernest, lives an extraordinary life. Their abode consists of three railways carriages and their lifestyle is idyllic, if not somewhat non-conformist! Privatisation of the stretch of railway on which they live, however, threatens the Willow family’s lifestyle forcing Mr Willow to take a job at the local, fairly dilapidated garden centre, Peppercorns.
Whilst in employ at the centre, the fairy-tale fire that burns at the heart of this novel, really takes hold’ Wronged out of their familial inheritance, the Peppercorns, lost one of their garden centres to the opportunistic Sparks family
It is the understated beauty, liveliness and interest in the curious that makes Gardner’s fiction toasty-warm, satisfyingly familiar and yet at once extraordinary. They feel to be fairy-tales etched out of the modern day and are augmented admirably by Peter Bailey’s sparsely expressive illustrations. An achievement indeed.