Excerpt from Lord of The Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lord of The Nutcracker Men

by Iain Lawrence

Lord of The Nutcracker Men
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 224 pages
    May 2003, 224 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

On the first of October he brought home a box of toy soldiers. They were British Tommies, little soldiers and machine gunners, cast from lead by a German toy maker.

Dad dropped the box on the floor. "You might as well have these, Johnny," he said. "No one's going to buy them now, and that's damned certain."

He never swore. So my mother gave him a dark look, and he turned very red.

"Well, they're not," he said. "If it comes from Germany, nobody wants it. No one will touch it, except to smash it. I saw a man go out of his way--clear across Baker Street--to kick at a dachshund a lady was walking."

"But we are at war," said Mum, trying to console him. "Those little lead soldiers might only be toys to you, but to other men they're something worth fighting about."

Dad scowled but didn't argue back. He sat in his chair, staring through the window at the buildings and the sky. It was just a few days later when he went off to his shop in the morning, and came home in a uniform. He had joined the British Army.

"They lowered the height!" he cried. "It's five foot five. I'll be a giant among the next batch of men."

His uniform didn't fit him very well. It drooped around him like a lot of greenish brown sacks, and the funny puttees--wound too many times round his legs--were held in place with his bicycle clips.

I laughed when I saw him like that. But Mum cried. She went at him with a mouthful of pins, tucking him all into shape like one of his little felt dolls. And all the time, as she nipped and tucked, she cried great tears that poured from her without any sound.

Dad softened his voice. "I have to do my bit. We have to lick the Germans."

He packed his things in a little bag. He sat on the floor and packed a book to read, and his carving set, his paints and inks. Mum smiled when she saw him doing that. She looked terribly sad, but she smiled. Then she bent down and kissed the top of his head.

Dad looked surprised. He gathered the rest of his things in a hurry, then stood up with his little bag. "I won't be gone for long," he said. "I'll be home in time for Christmas."

That was ten weeks away; it seemed forever.

"No tears, now," said Dad. "The time will pass before you know it." He hugged me. "I'll see you at Christmas."

He said the same thing at the railway station, and he shouted it from a window as the train started down the track. "Bye-bye, Johnny," he said. "See you at Christmas." A thousand men leaned from the windows, every one dressed in khaki, all waving their arms. They looked like a forest sliding down the platform, drawing away in blasts of steam. They left us all behind, a crowd of children and women and old, gray men. The platform was littered with rose petals.

We waved; we cheered and shouted until the train clattered across a point and the last carriage slipped around the bend. Then there was a silence that made the air seem thick and heavy. Nobody wanted to leave, but no one would look at anybody else. My mother covered her mouth with her handkerchief, took my hand, and pulled me away.

Excerpted from Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence Copyright 2001 by Iain Lawrence. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.