The Toymakers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

Thank you to the publishers, Netgalley and author Robert Disdale for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review. 

If you are looking for the perfect Christmas book, full of magic and Christmas sparkle, then look no further then this book. As this is exactly what it offers. 

I feel in love with this book from the very beginning and I couldn't put it down. It was simply wonderful, at times sad but it will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside and smiling from ear to ear long after you turn the very last page. Loved it.
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This book did not play out in the way that I thought it was going to.  It started out with this wonderful childlike feeling of magic and whimsy and as the years in the book progressed I felt this creeping responsibility of adult hood sinking in, yet there was always the possibility of magic.

The Toy Makers was beautiful and sad at the same time, it was filled with some of the most beautiful quotes I have come across in a long time, was superbly written and a joy and an honour to read.  

It did take me a long time to read this book but it wasn't the kind of book that you could or even wanted to rush through, it was so engrossing and consuming you felt like you became part of the Emporium.
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Premessa: per decidere se The Toy Makers mi fosse piaciuto (e decidere che sì, mi era piaciuto, e parecchio pure) ho dovuto riflettere un paio di giorni.
Cosa inusuale, per una che di solito stabilisce se un romanzo è nelle sue corde alle prime trenta pagine ( e difficilmente sbaglia - è rarissimo che qualcosa che non mi è piaciuto alla prima si risollevi).
In buona parte credo che sia dovuto allo scarto tra le aspettative iniziali e il prodotto effettivo.

Insomma: mi capita fra le mani un romanzo ambientato fra il 1907 e il 1953, in un negozio di giocattoli a Londra.
Giocattoli meravigliosi, con più di un tocco di magia, e un negozio altrettanto magico: apre con la prima brina e chiude allo spuntare dei bucaneve.
Ogni anno, da vent'anni, generazioni di bambini affollano i suoi labirintici interni, scoprendo castelli di nubi, animali di pezza che volano davvero, scatole più grandi all'interno che all'esterno, soldatini che combattono battaglie complesse e sempre nuove.
E in questo negozio arriva Cathy, quindici anni e incinta, in fuga da una famiglia che vorrebbe farla rinunciare al bambino che porta in grembo; per decoro, decenza, vergogna.
 
Cosa ci può essere di più coccoloso di un romanzo ambientato in un negozio magico di giocattoli magici?
Ben poco, pensa una, ricordando con piacere The night circus.

E legge, incauta e impreparata.

Perché arrivano violenze sugli ebrei, e i campi di lavoro in Russia, e i traumi della prima guerra mondiale; i difficili rapporti fra fratelli; invidia e gelosia che infiltrano come veleno le generazioni; dolore e lontananza e tradimento; la degradante perdita della magia; e una sorprendente riflessione sul libero arbitrio.

Il tutto sullo sfondo di un mondo a parte, toccato solo dai maggiori eventi di due decenni, fino alla sua disgregazione, quando la realtà diventa troppo per la magia.

Ecco, questo è quello che mi sono trovata, stranita, per le mani: un'opera complessa e intelligente, che ribalta le aspettative del lettore, scavando a fondo e offrendo una molteplicità di piani di lettura.

Notevole, davvero.

Ringrazio l'editore per avermi concesso la copia necessaria alla stesura di questa recensione. ^^
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Imagine stepping into a narrow alley somewhere in London in 1917 and entering into what looks like a tiny toyshop only to find it expands into a much larger space once you are through the doors. This is what Cathy Wray does when she goes there in search of a job as a sales assistant. Little does she know where things shall lead. She meets Papa and his two sons Emil and Kaspar who all share an extraordinary skill in making toys that defy imagination. Entranced by the shop, the toys and the family Cathy soon is absorbed into this peculiar, isolated world. The book spans a period of 50 years during which love, death, war and above all, the amazing toys ensure any reader shall find turning the pages simply irresistible. Yes, the story is pure escapism but the harshness of the real world is never far away.  By reading "The Toymakers"  you shall get back your childhood for a few hours - enjoy the magic!
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Why settle for normal toys when you can have ones which defy logic, with a pinch of mystical magic.  Bring your toys to life by buying them at the emporium. 
This book is the behind the scenes of how such magic and heartache goes into making such unique toys. If only there was one near here.  Stunning read which captivates you and takes you on a life long journey. Highly recommended
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The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

 

I am going to give this one a 3/5 stars rating, even though it doesn’t entirely work. Some parts I really loved, and some parts I really didn’t, so I’m just rounding it up. So, let’s start with the parts I enjoyed, shall we?

First of all, this book was giving me serious The Night Circus vibes from the very beginning. It’s fantasy ingrained in reality in a properly executed and often fascinating manner. I’m absolutely serious when I say that I only kept reading just to see what toy they were going to make next. I also kept imagining the Emporium as a combination of Olivander’s with Honeydukes and Weasley Wizard Wheezes and it reminded me a lot of my childhood and one of my favourite book series, even if that wasn’t the author’s intentions.

While I was reading the book I grew really fond of Dinsdale’s writing as well; I could see myself reading this book during Christmas time and the fact that it read pretty much like a fairytale didn’t hurt either. His pace and time jumps, as well as the time frame of the book reminded me of another favourite of mine; Thornbirds by Collen McCullough. But, as far as virtues go, I’m afraid this is it.

Even though it’s a fairly short book (around 300 pages if I remember correctly), I felt like it lasted forever. I liked the writing, but I felt it was dragging on and on and on. I was constantly under the impression that the author had no idea where he wanted to go with the story; a lot of things happened, but they seemed to get the storyline nowhere in particular. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just something that, on this occasion, exhausted me.

Another thing that irked was that I really didn’t care for the characters. I mean, I sort of liked Cathy – even though I am certain I will soon forget of her existence – but I don’t even have an opinion on anyone else. Do I like them? Do I hate them? Honestly, I don’t even know. They were either underdeveloped or completely common and forgettable, and I honestly couldn’t give a damn what happened to them.

So, where exactly do I stand with this book? It’s just an okay book, one that you could perhaps love if you find yourself caring or rooting for the characters – something I, unfortunately, didn’t.

**An ARC was provided in exchange of an honest review**
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