Monday, March 17, 2008

At the Firefly Gate by Linda Newbery

atthefireflygate.jpgOccasionally a book pops into your hands and you wonder how it managed to stay under the radar for so long. At the Firefly Gate by Linda Newbery is one of these books. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the story that has left this one unknown to so many readers, but it deserves to be read by a wide audience.

I first heard about this one from Deslily awhile back and I've been wanting to read it ever since. At the Firefly Gate is a ghost story, a story of friendship, a coming of age story, and a love story for children and adults all wrapped up in just over 150 pages and it’s told beautifully. Henry is in his 6th year of school and has just moved from London to live in a cottage in the country. He’s never been overly confident of himself and is afraid that he won’t make any friends. On his first night at his new home he sees a man standing under his garden gate surrounded by fireflies with a bomber jacket slung over his shoulder. Only no one else sees him.

He meets the family living next door and is forced to hang out with Grace who is less a couple of years older than him and less than pleasant. But he finds that he enjoys the company of her grandmother, Dottie, more than anyone and strikes up quite a friendship with her. As Henry continues to have dreams about days gone by from the WWII era and of pilots from that time, he finds that he knows the stories that Dottie shares before she tells them. He also starts to notice that Dottie looks towards the Firefly Gate as well when the man with the bomber jacket appears. He begins hearing planes that fly overhead at night that no one else hears. Puzzle after puzzle presents itself leading him to answers of the past as he forms his own new friendships in the present.

I enjoyed every page of At the Firefly Gate and Linda Newbery is an author to keep an eye on. This is quite a refreshing book that tells a simple story and examines relationships in every sense of the word. I love the melancholy feel of this book and the nostalgia that she so wonderfully created of a time gone by and of a present day country side in England. 4.5/5

(copyright 2008 by Chris Howard for Curled Up With A Good Book)

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