MR. MAC AND ME, by Esther Freud

A beguiling first-person story set on the Suffolk coast of England at the beginning of World War One. Young Thomas Maggs, only surviving son of a public house (pub) owner who drinks more of his wares than he sells, treads a perpetually fine line between the brutality of his home life and the world outside. The war is young, and as they listen to the distant rumble of guns from across the Channel, everyone assumes it'll be over by Christmas. Into the placid, simple life of the town come two visitors from Scotland, artists, who rent a tumbledown shack and proceed to sketch away their days. Click below for more...
The man, Mr. Mac, goes for long, solitary walks along the coast, often at night, and usually with a spyglass. Thomas, an artist, is fascinated by the couple, and begins to spend time with them. Mr. Mac, it turns out, is the famous architect and designer Charles Rennie Macintosh and his equally talented but gender-shackled wife. As the war intensifies, some people begin to question why the couple has come here. As with all Freud's books, the subtle stories of lives transformed is beautifully accomplished, and Thomas's life - as fascinating in its way as Macintosh's - unfolds with beautiful symmetry. This is a 5, and would make a wonderful gift for a dear friend.
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