Interspersing the magic of fairy tales with a wry yet touching narrative, Amanda Craig examines the thin line between fantasy and reality, creativity and mental illness.
Benedick Hunter is a recently divorced, out-of-work, thirty-nine-year-old actor. Feeling both guilty and sorry for himself, he blunders through weekends with his two spirited children and fends off various women desperate to snare an eligible man, all the time fearing that he is on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
His life takes on a new direction, however, when he discovers a long-forgotten book of fairy tales his mother wrote and illustrated decades earlier. Drawn to its pages, he becomes entranced by the hints of reality embedded in the stories, from thinly veiled portraits of his own father and his parents acquaintances to alluring glimpses of his mother as a young woman. Convinced that the stories can explain his mothers suicide when he was six and put an end to his agonizing mood swings, Benedick embarks on a journey to untangle the past, a journey that eventually takes him to the heart of his own nature, modern fatherhood, manic depression, and the elusive character of fairy-tales.
With imagination and incisive wit, Amanda Craig has written a novel that was selected as one of the "best of the years books" by the The Times of London, which wrote, "Although not frightening enough to give you sleepless nights, Craigs wonderful, page-turning storytelling will keep you up way past your time for bed."
An intriguing idea is marred by poor execution in Craig's novel, which was a great success in England in 2000..... Although the story is engaging and maintains interest, its weaknesses overpower its strengths. Neither Benedick's mania nor his children are convincingly depicted ... and the book reads as if it were switching genres from realistic fiction to Gothic romance.
With a sure hand, Craig brings chilling suspense and dark humor to a stylized study of the loss of childhood innocence, the complexities of creativity and the correlation between artistic genius and mental health all expertly cloaked in the symbols and metaphors of fairy tales.
Sunday Times (UK)
'Polished prose and flashing wit.'
The Times of London
Although not frightening enough to give you sleepless nights, Craig’s wonderful, page-turning storytelling will keep you up way past your time for bed.
'A most unusual, bold and imaginative novel, and a very moving one'
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