Don't you just love it when a book takes you by surprise, grabs hold of you and refuses to let go. That was me with Lanny, a madrigal of England.
From the moment I bought the book - lovely little hardback which I read listening to live Latino music in the park under the sheltering bower of a large tree - to the perfect opening poem (Peace, my stranger is a tree/ Growing naturally through all its/ Discomforts, trials and emergencies/ Of growth. It is green and resolved/It breathes with anguish/ Yet it releases peace, peace of mind/ Growth, movement./ It walks this greening sweetness/ Throughout all the earth,/ Where sky and sun tender its habits/As I would you.' Lynette Roberts, 'Green Madrigal (1)'), to Max Porter's own delicious and delightful way with words, his sharp depiction of characters, the flashes of wit and humour - I was totally drawn in and consumed in my reading.
For an instance of Max Porter's seemingly simple, yet astounding way with words, take his description of the weather: 'We are indoors because mile-wide slabs of rain romp across the valley.'
To anyone who has lived in England, this is just the most perfect description. I have seen that 'mile-wide slab of romping rain' many a time.
Apart from the quixotic, folksy and magical quality of this novel, I enjoyed the fact that I had to have a little faith in my reading and enjoy it for its own, perplexing and not always explainable nature. In that much, it reflects its subject and characters, especially Dead Papa Toothwort.
There is much to dwell on between these pages. I read it too quickly and want to go back and savour it. It is a feast of voices, a madrigal of characters and nature and place. A book like no other ....
My 5 star Goodreads review:
This is a book like no other I’ve ever read. To begin with I was dubious, but I was drawn in, as if by magic. Max Porter and his way with words are something else, something unexpected and alluring and beguiling. Before I knew it I was hooked in. I think you need to be prepared to read with an open mind and have faith in the story. Some of it is perplexing. Much of it is astonishing. I’ll be dwelling on 'Lanny', about the wonderful characters (especially Lanny himself and Mad Pete) , about the mesmerising and enchanting quality of this novel for days to come.
Definitely a book like no other. No other book quite like Lanny.