*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Max Porter
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
There’s a village sixty miles outside London. It’s no different from many other villages in England. Voices rise up, as they might do anywhere, speaking of loving and needing and working and dying and walking the dogs. This village belongs to the people who live in it and to the people who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, a figure schoolchildren used to draw green and leafy, choked by tendrils growing out of his mouth. Dead Papa Toothwort is awake. He is listening to this twenty-first-century village, to his English symphony. He is listening, intently, for a mischievous, enchanting boy whose parents have recently made the village their home. Lanny.
Lanny blends together poetry, fantasy, and magical realism to create this stunning and artistic work. It’s a dark fable full of themes of family and friendship and small-town living. The story centers around a young boy, Lanny, who everyone agrees has a strange personality, but is ultimately a sweet child. This story is told in multiple perspectives of the adults who care for and watch over Lanny. It explores their own inner monologues and their perceptions of the lovely little boy. The final perspective is that of Dead Papa Toothwort who’s telling refuses to stay restricted within the boundaries of traditional prose. He is built of legends, memory, and history, informed by the town he presides over. His words flow free form over the page, adding to the mystical feeling that pervades the pages. He is constrained by neither time nor space.
It’s hard to truly review this book because it’s so lyrical and flowing in a way that breaks the bounds of traditional fiction. The story explores both the beauty and the chaos that exists in life. This is a world inhabited by very imperfect characters. Their world and their relationships are torn apart when tragedy strikes and sometimes even resolution isn’t enough to mend what’s broken. The characters are forced to face the darkest parts of themselves and the most tragic outcomes. Judgements and stereotypes rise to the surface as fear runs deep. A writer, an artist, a husband, a child. They all have a part to play.
This book toes the line between fantasy and reality. It’ll have you questioning what is real and what might be a figment of the imagination. Lanny is a mysterious, artful, and musical kind of read. I hope you’ll enjoy it like I did.