05 March 2009

The Good Mayor (Andrew Nicoll)

I am SO glad I liked The Good Mayor. Mainly because for the past month I've been selling it to customers like crazy, telling them it's cute/charming/magical/the kind of book you just hug to your chest and go 'awwww'. Then a co-worker pointed out that maybe, just maybe, I ought to read it. Crazy crazy idea, but I thought I'd give it a go.

And you know what? It IS cute. And charming. Lucky break there...

Tibo Krovic is the mayor of a small town in the Baltic called Dot, who is hopelessly, head over heels in love with his (unhappily) married secretary, Agathe. Everyday he listens for her high heels clicking across the office floor, and whenever it is raining he watches under the office door as Agathe taking off her galoshes and slips into her high heels. The problem is, Tibo just isn't able to work up the courage to confess his feelings...until one day Agathe drops her lunch in the fountain and Tibo takes a chance.

The relationship which develops between the two is lovely, starting with lunch everyday and gradually becoming more. What could have been just a normal love story is made really special by the way it is told. The story is narrated by Saint Walpurnia, the patron saint of Dot whose image is everywhere. (As the legend goes, Walpurnia thought it was so important that she remain chaste, she prayed to be deformed and was given a beard and warts all over her body.) There are a few magical elements to the story, which now I think of it, reminds me a tad of Joanne Harris. Cute is probably an apt word to describe parts of the story; Dot's neighboring towns are called 'Dash' and 'Umlaut' and the local river is called 'Ampersand'.
Punctuation as names?
Why not?
A car chase that takes place at walking pace?
But of course!
Each sentence is beautifully constructed (much more so than in this review which I realise rambles on a bit...), and you just fall in love with the book a bit (and like it says on the cover, it DOES make you want to go out and fall in love with someone).

Admittedly, the story gets a little too weird towards the end, and doesn't quite finish as strongly as it started, but it's well worth the read. And I swear I actually did read it this time.


*Interesting tidbit - apparently the author, Andrew Nicoll, didn't like the Australian cover (pictured above) as it made the book seem like it was only for the ladies, when he wrote it to be for both men and women. Do we think a book which is mostly about feelings (I'd say about 90%) is a man book? I don't want to make any stereotypical judgments here....
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