The Road To Ever After ISBN: 9781509832583
Published by Macmillan Children's Books, 2016
This is a fantasy novel, but that doesn't half describe it. It's otherworldly, magical and beautifully written. But while it is all these things, it is also about real people in real situations that happen in unreal circumstances. Davy David is a homeless boy in a dreadful town, run by a monstrous parson who has no joy in life. Davy lives under a hedge and is an artist. He draws angels, using twigs, in the dust of the grass-less areas of the town, and people see them, admire them, and have no idea of who does the the wonderful drawings. He spends lots of time in the library looking at pictures of angels which he then replicates. The only other place he goes is to the local run-down cinema, and both the librarian and the cinematographer are his only friends - as well as a small dog called George. Adventures start to happen to Davy on Christmas Eve when he unexpectedly meets Elizabeth Flint, a cross patch of an old lady who lives in what used to be the town museum. She wants to go back to her old home by the sea and enlists Davy to drive her there. As he is only 12, this doesn't seem likely, and he turns her down in the beginning, but after an encounter with the terrible parson and the destruction of his hedge home, it seems a good idea for Davy and George to leave town. Off they go in Miss Flint's aged car. Along the way, they meet various people, pleasant and unpleasant, and Davy soon realises that when they get to Miss Flint's home, she plans to take pills and commit suicide. Not only that, but there are mysteries about her family and her early life. Along the way, she begins to get younger. From a frail (and rather unpleasant) 80 year old, she becomes younger by the hour - first to 60, then 40 - and finally to 10 when they get to the house - which she left at that age after the death of her younger brother in an accident that she has always felt she could have prevented. Miss Flint does die on Christmas Day at the end of the story, but not by suicide, and her death is as magical as her life has been. There is a happy ending for Davy too, due to the intense friendship they have developed. There is much about pictures, both those that Davy makes and those he sees at the old cinema. In fact these old black and white films come into the story in different ways. They are mostly magical ones, of course, and we are given a list of them at the end of the book. This novel would be a super read for anyone, but it will mean a great deal to those who have lost someone close. It may bring on tears, healthy tears, but I suspect they will never forget it. Lovely black and white pictures at the beginning of each chapter.