The Toymakers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

Every now and again a book comes along that takes you by the hand and pulls you down into the pages, refusing to release you from it’s spell until the very last page. The Toymakers is one such book and I was captivated from the very first page. Dinsdale’s beautiful descriptions and style of writing made me feel as though I was right there in Papa Jack’s Emporium, and, as Papa Jack’s toys work their own special magic, I felt a sense of anticipation reminiscent of my own childhood Christmases. From the second I was introduced to the Emporium, the book lit up a childlike wonder in me, just as Papa Jack’s toys in the adults that loved them as much as the children that they were bought for. The real world fell away, and I was lost in a world of imagination.
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I have yet to read a book with such a clarity of imagination as this. Amazing tale that should be made into a film - better than Harry Potter
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This book is magic. It hooked me since the first pages and kept me interested and charmed till the last page. It is one of those book that make you feel sad when you turn the last page because you want more and you don't want to leave that fantastic world.
The best fantasy book I read in the last years.
Strongly recommended.
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Cathy Wray is nearly sixteen, and hiding a shameful secret when she reads a circled advertisement in a local newspaper. Seeing it as a means to escape, she finds herself in a  back street of London about to enter a magical world of make believe. Never before has she seen such wonders as when she first enters Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

The aisles were alive. She took a step, stumbled when her foot caught a locomotive of some steam train chugging past. She was turning to miss it when wooden horses cantered past in jagged rhythms, their Cossack riders reaching out as if to threaten the train gliding by.

And this is where I, as the reader had to suspend disbelief and immerse myself into an alternative world of children’s make believe and innocence or so I thought.

As we begin to discover, it is not all make believe and innocence in the Emporium.  Kasper, the elder brother, is the toy maker with the imagination and flair, Emil the younger brother is less flamboyant and it is his jealousy that slowly eats away at the magic. War deepens the rift between the brothers and has an impact on those around them with devastating results.

Dinsdale does not hold back from describing the horrors of war and it was particularly poignant to read of the mental trauma that many suffered, after returning home and the lack of understanding of family members.

The characters are wonderfully multi-layered and as events unfold so do the differing sides of their characteristics. Cathy is strong and resilient. Papa Jack is quiet, yet with an immense presence, he is the glue that holds them together. Kasper is outgoing, and exuberant to begin with before events take their toll. Emil is Kasper’s opposite, lacks confidence and self-esteem, forever in Kasper’s shadow, gnawed away by jealousy.

The magic that we discover at the beginning slowly ebbs away as adults lose sight of their inner child, and the world becomes more real. The magical toys are never far away, playing their part, bringing people together, forcing others apart. I did find that I had to push reality to one side for the second part of the story but this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story. In some ways it added that extra dimension and uniqueness that is often lacking in todays novels.

The story itself covers quite a long time frame, embracing both the first and second world wars, and it was interesting to see the differing reactions and development of the characters. You never quite knew where the story would take you next, and all I wanted was a happy ending and for the magic to return.

To find out of it if there is happy ending and if indeed the magic does return  I would urge you to avail yourself of a copy of this unique and mesmerising novel. It will sweep you away back to your childhood, it will tug at your heartstrings and totally enthral all who read it.
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Very interesting book, magical in places, but perhaps overlong and doesn't sustain the magic throughout. Some nice characterization, but the magic dog is probably the only one I will remember. The Magical Emporium itself is beautifully imagined and worth the price of the book.
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This review will be published at the link below and on Goodreads on 18 Feb 2018.

In brief 

The Toymakers is a magical, tragic, and nostalgic story, set amid extraordinary toy store Papa Jack's Emporium across the first half of the twentieth century. Runaway Cathy finds herself in the middle of The Long War between Papa Jack's sons Kaspar and Emil, but when war is truly declared, their battles with toy soldiers take on a whole new meaning and life. Beautifully written and full of both wonderful fantasy and heartbreaking realism, The Toymakers is a debut not to be missed.

I received an advanced ebook copy from Penguin Random House and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

In depth

Plot: We follow Cathy Wray as she finds herself pregnant at sixteen and runs away to London to keep her baby. Fortuitously, she answers an unusual advert for winter floor staff at the Emporium, and in doing so finds a home. As Cathy lets down her guard, the sons of the Emporium, care-free Kaspar and studious Emil, both take a fancy to her, and so begins a new chapter in their life-long competition, The Long War. The stakes increase as war breaks out in 1914, and nothing at the Emporium is ever the same again. Dinsdale's imagination is impressive - the wonders found in the Emporium can't avoid comparisons to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes - but early on we learn there's a darkness to the Emporium's origin story. Indeed, the story does take some surprisingly dark turns, but these stop the tale from being saccharine and keep the novel firmly in the realm of adult historical fiction (albeit with a solid dose of fantasy). 

Characters: Cathy is my kind of heroine - plagued by doubt but determined to do the right thing, she forges a path for her and her baby against the odds. She certainly makes many mistakes, but we watch her learn from them as she ages. Kaspar is one of those characters who seems too good to be true first off - flirty, attractive and gifted with the ability to design truly magical toys - it took me a long time to be able to trust him, but when I did, I became fully invested in his story arc (but I can't say more without spoilers, sorry!). On the other hand, Emil's reticence and intensity endeared him to me from the get go, leading to later devestation. While the world of the Emporium is small, the characters within it are large and lively, although the secondary characters are relatively flat and clearly manipulated for the purposes of the plot (except, perhaps, Papa Jack himself). 

Themes: The Toymakers is very much about the wonders and magic of childhood and innocence, and the way this world can fade, but never be lost to us forever. The human cost of war is explored sensitively, as is the competitive love between siblings. Finally, this novel is a celebration of the power of imagination, and its endless ability to make magic.

Writing: This is an easy book to read; the writing beautifully evokes both winter in London and the extraordinary landscape of the Emporium. It is heavy on the descriptive side, but when the prose flows like this, I found that didn't really bother me. The dialogue was well-crafted, and the narration of Cathy's fears and insecurities brings the reader in to her circumstances and self. Dinsdale does go a bit hard on certain motifs (repeating the same phrases about running away, particularly in the back half of the novel), but otherwise this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Recommended if you liked: The Night Circus
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This book will always remind me of winter. It's not just that so much of it is set in the wintry time between First Frost and the budding of the snowdrop, the magical time when the doors of the Emporium - Papa Jack's Emporium, the most magical toyshop in all London - are open.

Nor is it because I read it on a weekend break in snowy Reykjavik.

No, it's more that Dinsdale has somehow captured the essence of winter in the frozen lives, the frozen hearts - for much of the novel - of his characters. So much so, that as the book continues one aches for the spring, the thaw, the warm sun.

It doesn't begin like that of course.

The story proper opens with a young woman, Cathy, who has fallen pregnant. In the judgemental atmosphere of 1906, she must be made to suffer, and she is to give the child up ("They brought her down to Dovercourt to sell her child"). Running away to London she heads for - where else? The Emporium, where she takes a job as a shop assistant.

Dinsdale is at its best conjuring - I use the word advisedly! - the atmosphere of the Emporium in all its pomp. Of course, a bustling, thronged toyshop in the Christmas season lends itself to being portrayed as a hive of wonders, so perhaps he's going with the grain, but even so, we get a glimpse of something almost magical in the glimpse of the brightly lit shop, hidden away at the end of Iron Duke Mews, so much so that it's easy to believe stepping inside takes you a little way out of this world.

Yet this glimpse - seen in the prologue, and again in the opening of the novel proper - has to sustain us, and Dinsdale's protagonists, through a long, hard winter, one that we suspect they may not all survive. Life is precarious, and the Emporium, despite appearances, is not a haven from the outside world. Cathy has run away and has, in her pregnancy, a secret that could destroy her hard-won security. Kaspar and Emil, the two Godson boys who work with Papa Jack, are rivals in all sorts of ways. Jack is himself a refugee from hard times in the East - his life history explored in one particularly moving sequence where he dramatises what happened to him through a magical, immersive wind-up toy.

And looming over all there is, of course, the backward shadow of the future - looming war which will consume the shop hands and the comfortable life of the Emporium, bring division and pain, and break hearts.

It is, then, in many respects a very dark story that Dinsdale tells. Like Jack, he portrays his themes through the medium of toys - mainly, the evolving lives of the wooden, clockworks soldiers made by Emil, with perhaps a hint of Papa Jack's magic, models which learn, and teach, lessons about freedom, restraint and endurance. But there's also the windup patchwork dog, Sirius who, in the manner of dogs, is fiercely loyal yet may bring you to tears.

It is, then, a magical story in so many ways - in theme but also in form. Like the Emporium itself, Dinsdale presents something that is bigger on the inside (I wondered whether the echo of Doctor Who was conscious, and I'm still not sure, but it is very appropriate). Like one of Papa Jack's miraculous paper models, it unfolds to show love, persistence, rivalry, despair and how the passing of the years dilutes and refines these. Far from a Peter Pan or a Wind in the Willows, fine books which nonetheless present an idealised summer preserved for ever, The Toymakers focusses on the winter, and as the seasons turn things do change. Children do grow up and some of them can turn out very bad. But at the core of the book is Papa Jack's belief in the power of a memory of childhood (emphatically not its indefinite prolongation, nor taking refuge in it) which can be redemptive in even the darkest moments.

Often a hard book to read, but nevertheless uplifting, even joyous at times and imbued with a deep optimism.

A gorgeous book. You want to read this, you really do.
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Wow - Prepare for me to gush about this utter gem of a book because gush I must!

The Toymakers is a magical, compelling and mesmerising read that totally absorbed me and has changed the way I'll look at toys forever. 

The writing is flawlessly beautiful and engaging and the characters are so well drawn that I feel I've left friends behind. The author vividly portrays the most magnificent awe inspiring scenes, totally capturing the wonders of childhood and the excitement of Christmas. This is brilliantly contrasted and interwoven with a story line of magical creations, complex relationships, love, rivalry and war and the impacts of PTSD - heartwarming, nostalgic, evocative and suspense fully dark in places.

Anyone who was ever a child needs to read this book! 

An unreserved 5 stars and huge thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK for the ARC of this truly special book. It's one of the few that I'm sure I'll be reading over and over again!
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I was so sure I was going to love this book because I love anything to do with Christmas and this book is full of Christmas vibes... but unfortunately I was left disappointed.

I felt that I was waiting and waiting for something massive to happen.... but it didn't.

It pains to me to say this as I'm a book worm, but I feel that this would be better as a film!
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A captivating read from start to finish. A truly magical tale that will appeal to the child we all hold within us.
Enter the world of Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium and nothing is what we expect. From toys that seem to be alive to toys that defy our expectations everything to be found within this store is a wonder.
We learn about the story of Papa Jack’s when young Cathy Wray runs away from home upon learning she is pregnant. Like so many other lost souls, the doors of the Emporium open to her. And so begins a relationship with the extraordinary that sees her through to old age.
We pass through some awful years, watching how the effects of war tarnish the innocence that Jakebs Goldman and his two sons, Kaspar and Emil, try to keep alive. Throughout, the presence of the magical Emporium is a constant.
While I was captivated by the delights and wonders presented to us in the opening part of the book, it came into its own when we began to explore the concerns of adulthood and the impact family rivalry can have (even years on).
I must thank NetGalley for allowing me to read this prior to publication, and now need to preorder my own copy to pass onto others who need that little bit of magic on their lives.
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Do you believe in magic?

No, I don't mean the 'saw you in half' or making a dove appear, type of magic. I mean the magic of childhood. The magic of walking into a toy shop and feeling your jaw drop as your eyes focused on the rows and rows of beautiful, colourful and enchanting toys which you just HAD to have. THAT magic.

So, I'll ask you again. Do you believe in magic?

Unfortunately it did take me a while to get into this throws of the storyline. Maybe it was because I wasn't in a good mood when I started it, I don't know. I just found it to be a bit on the slow side. To be honest, I will blame myself for that because if you're in a bad mood at the start of a new book, you're hardly going to be able to enjoy the true essence behind the story.

Once I switched off from the outside world and found my inner child, the magic behind the Emporium started to shine through. I was able to appreciate the story and how the toys came to life. I was able to appreciate why Cathy was there and the hold brothers, Kaspar and Emil had over her. Personally, I felt that the love triangle didn't need to be there as I really do think that the storyline would have held its own with his focus being on Papa Jack's Toy Emporium. But that's just me, obviously. 

Robert Dinsdale certainly is such an enigmatic writer, with his passion shining through like a beacon. Over thinking this storyline is a no go. You need to let go of your own thoughts before even starting this book so that you can appreciate what the author was trying to do. 'The Toymakers' isn't the sort of book which you can just pick up and fly through like other books - you need to take your time reading it, appreciating the magic, appreciating Papa Jack's story, otherwise what is the point?

I did enjoy reading 'The Toymakers', but I feel that I would benefit from reading the book for a second time as I don't think I appreciated the book enough from my own point of view. Plus, I have a valid excuse to lose myself in the magic of toys again, what's not to like? The historic feel in this novel, seeing as it is set in the 1900's, really caught my eye and made me travel back in time to where everything began. Personally, the magic and the history is what made this book for me.

It's clear that this author knows his craft and how to deliver it - I was blown away by the magical concept and being able to feel like a child again. That in itself is priceless.

Beautiful, enchanting and utterly addictive - what's not to like?
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'"Do you really open at first frost and close when the snowdrops flower?"
 "Every year", said Papa Jack.  "A toyshop's trade is in the dark winter months...It's only then the magic can truly be conjured"'  -------  R. Dinsdale.

Robert Dinsdale casts a spell and pulls you into a spectacular and imaginative world of mystique, enchantment and magic, all set in the vintage toy emporium of your childhood dreams.  This is all your Christmas's rolled into one.....but beware as it's not all glitter and sparkle and beyond what the eye sees there is a dark and haunting element to this novel too.

This book can be comparable to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Many thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this ARC for which I have given my voluntary and unbiased review.
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THE TOYMAKERS by Robert Hinsdale is a beautiful story that will appeal to all of us who can remember the magic of toys and the special place they can hold in your heart.

When Cathy Wray finds herself on the doorstep of the unusual Papa Jack's Toy Emporium she is afraid of the huge changes that are taking place in her life and hopes to find a job and a place to stay.  But as soon as she walks through its magical doors, Cathy realises that there is so much more to the Emporium than meets the eye ...

THE TOYMAKERS by Robert Dinsdale really must be read to be understood but I will try my best to convey the magic that lies within these pages. From the stunning description of the toys and shop itself to the quirky characters that inhabit it, this story will transport you to another time and place and make you feel every emotion, and see every enchanting scene unfold before your very eyes. But not everything smells of roses as anger and jealousy find its place among the happiness, and with the shadow of the War serving as a comparison, THE TOYMAKERS has a rich depth to its narrative that works well. 

I loved this story and I highly recommend THE TOYMAKERS by Robert Dinsdale to everyone who loves a magical story with heart.
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Such an evocative book,    You enter the Emporium at first by following a customer through the store and see it through the customers eyes. 

Cathy runs away from home and answers an advert that is asking for staff to come to Papa Jacks Emporium.  The most amazing, wondrous toyshop in London which opens with the first frost. A place where if you're lost, you can be found.   

Such a great book.  Nothing that I type will convey the feelings that I have for this book.  The highs and lows that I experienced while reading it.  
This is one of those rare books that will actually stay with me for a long time to come.  I know that I"m going to bore friends and family for months to come by insisting that they read it. 

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in return for an honest and un-biased review.
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When Cathy Wray runs from her family, after seeing an advert in the newspaper for helpers at Papa Jack's emporium, she is scared but cautiously optimistic for the future.

The advert that entices her would be intriguing to most:
Help Wanted: Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart? So are we...

The emporium is a magical toy store which opens with the first frost of winter and closes with the flowering of the first snowdrops. At the heart of the emporium is owner Jekabs Godman (Papa Jack).

Papa Jack along with his sons, Emil and Kaspar make wonderful toys, with more than just a touch of magic; toy soliders that seem to have their own personality and can seemingly fight battles on their own, Patchwork dogs and other animals that seem to be alive, and toy boxes that are bigger on the inside than on the outside.

Cathy has never worked in any sort of shop at all, much less a wonderful shop with a fascinating and brilliant reputation as London’s ‘premier merchant of toys and childhood paraphernalia’. Papa Jack takes a chance on Cathy when she turns up unwittingly one opening night, their busiest of the year.

She expects only to stay for one ‘season’ but the magic of the store captures Cathy’s heart at a time when she is at her most desperate. Her life is turned upside down by the emporium but that’s really all I can say without giving anymore away.

The Toymakers is a magical novel that will truly capture your imagination and really does has something for everyone.
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Brilliant, magical and evocative tale, dealing with coming of age, love, loss, friendships, rivalries and family against the backdrop of a magical toy shop. The leading characters are artfully drawn, but it is the shop and Papa Jack that are the real stars of this book, providing the backdrop and thematic linking of everything else. Truly gorgeous and lives long in the memory
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The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. Across the city, when children wake to see the ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice cracking underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open. In the heart of Mayfair, 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 his famous and magical toys. Into the family comes a young Cathy Wray - who's homeless and vunerable. The Emporium takes her in, and Cathy discovers that the Emporium is the only toy shop that is truly magical.

This story is based around Papa Jack's sons, Kasper and Emils battle for control of the Emporium. Set between 1917 and the 1950's , it covers two World Wars. The authors style of writing does take a few chapters to get used to, but stick with it as this story is truly magical. I was whisked back to my childhood with this truly magical read that's tinged with sadness.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing and the author Robert Dinsdale for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Running away was not like it was in the stories.

People did not try and stop you. They did not give chase.

The thing people didn’t understand was that you had to decide what you were running away from.

Most of the time it wasn’t mothers or fathers or monsters or villains; most of the time you were running away from that little voice inside your head, the one telling you to stay where you are, that everything will turn out all right.

There are a hundred different clocks in the Emporium.

Some keep time with the comings and goings of London seasons. Others tick out of sync, counting down the hours of that faraway coastline the Godman brothers once called home. Still more keep erratic and uncontrollable times: one counts each third second backwards, the better to extend the time between chores; another elongates the evening, all the better to keep bedtime at bay.

These are the times that children keep, and which adults are forbidden from remembering.

Only a child could understand how one day might last an eternity, while another pass in the flicker of an eye.

Yes, Papa Jack’s Emporium is a place out of step with the world outside. Come here day or night and you will find a place marching to the beat of its own drum.

Listen and you might hear it, even now …


So happy to say that this not only lived up to all my expectations but exceeded them – a little slice of magic in magical realism done perfectly! I plan to reread this around Christmas as, despite the story taking place over decades, this would be a perfect festive read.

Cathy grabbed my heart from the first page, where she flees from an uncertain future to the city where anything could happen. The Emporium is like another character in the story, changing with the seasons, but a constant presence supporting the people who pass through its doors and find true magic. The tension between love and competitiveness between Kaspar and Emil is portrayed so perfectly and realistically, though I found Emil less sympathetic a character as the book continued with one decision he made later on seeming almost completely out of character for who he was in the first half of the book!)

A magical book, highly recommended – please read it!


There is a moment, before the end, when a man knows he cannot be saved. I have watched some go to it in a state of quiet awe, but that is not the story of most. Most men feel the encroaching dark and rage against it – but a man can no more fight that battle than light can battle shade.

In these hospital beds they hold themselves until they can hold themselves no longer; after that, they are men no more. They are like boys with a fever, wanting only to curl up beside Mama, with old blankets on their laps, and be sung to and told stories.

What better way for a man to go out than the way he came in? With the milk of mother’s love.

It was my papa who taught me how a toy must speak to a grown man, how it must fill him with the simplicity, again, of being a child.

Children come to the Emporium for adventure, but adults to be reminded that adventure was once possible, that once the world was as filled with magic as the imagination will allow.

What I liked: The magic, so much magic! I am often disappointed by magical realism books if the balance is (in my opinion) tilted too far towards the reality and not the magic. Yet, this book, got it just right with the realities of war and hardship being balanced perfectly with the sense of awe and wonder inspired by the Emporium

Even better if: I did struggle a bit with Emil ‘s decision near the end and the fact that he never came clean about it. While I could see him doing something like that in anger or on a whim, I couldn’t reconcile the fact that he never admitted what he had done in the face of all the sadness it caused.

How you could use it in your classroom: Despite this being marketed as an adult novel, there is nothing in this book which makes it unsuitable for a younger audience. I would recommend it for secondary pupils who have some knowledge of World War I and II as this book straddles the years of history with ease, yet touches on the trauma and turmoil caused by war.
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I have no idea how to begin my review, I have thought about this all day, how do you capture all the beauty caught between the pages of The Toymakers within a few paragraphs? How can I write about the wonderment, enchantment and Magic without revealing any spoilers? Easily, I will tell you how the book made me feel. I read The Toymakers purely after reading another blogger’s review, there was no talk of the story which made me want to read it all the more. I wanted to be enlightened.

As discussed in my latest #Bookchat post I mentioned my love of magic themed books, those that spin a fairytale around my consciousness and drag me deep into the world created by the pen of talented minds and, after reading a few in my 38 years, sadly there are very few that hit the mark. The Toymakers, however, will reside in memory palace for the rest of my days.

This is a book of such a tale that you feel you have lived a thousand years by the final sentence.

Emotionally drained was an understatement for I sat in public spaces with tear filled eyes and a constant large lump obstructing my throat as I tried to keep myself contained reminding myself I was only reading a story after all, this wasn’t my reality and didn’t affect me. Not that my reasoning with myself did any good you must understand I was far too involved with the characters and invested too much time for them not to be flickering on the edge of my thoughts when I was going about my daily (real) life.

The Toymakers was a deeply layered novel, stitched together by time and the complexity of characters, a tale of other worlds, harrowing times, hardship and despair but foremost strong unconditional love, rich deep detail and emotive writing to hold your attention, cover you in goosebumps and a really thought provoking read. This was a story of a journey a new world adventure.

I often found myself speed reading, I was impatient for the next step of the journey

I want you to read this book because you want to feel the magic, experience the elation and join the journey yourself.

I don’t want to tell you about the characters, I want you to discover them yourself

If you are chasing a heart warming story you will find it here, not without the darker times, which adds so much depth the the tale. If you want an investment into complex characters, expressive language, and remnisient writing pushing the boundaries of your imagination then this should be the next book on your pile. (just ensure you have a handy pack of tissues with you at all times)

You have to want to believe, to enjoy The Toymakers, it is a beautiful nostalgic read that rekindles childhood pastimes and play.

This story shares the solidarity behind joining forces and making the best of what you have and even when you feel wrung out and don’t want to read another word I beg of you to continue because the story is not final until the very last full stop.

I resurfaced into my reality emotionally drained yet satisfied, I had been on such a journey and had the pleasure of Robert Dinsdales company, I salute such a talented author and anticipate more of his work.

The imagination of Robert Dinsdale is outstanding and should be celebrated. Enjoy your journey into the Emporium.
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I loved this book. As a child I loved stories about magic, stories that transported me to another world, but The Toymakers is not a children’s story. It is an extraordinary, magical and wonderful book that captivated me, a book set mainly in 1917 whilst the First World War was taking its toll of humanity, leaving despair and tragedy in its wake. It’s a blend of historical fiction and magic realism.This is a story of love, and family relationships, as well as of the devastating effects of rivalry and war.

Papa Jack’s Emporium in London is a toyshop extraordinaire. It opens with the first frost of winter each year and closes when the first snowdrop blooms. And the toys it sells aren’t ordinary toys – they seem alive, from patchwork dogs, to flying pegasi, Russian dolls that climb out of one another, runnerless rocking horses, whales that devour ships, fire-breathing dragons and many others to the toy soldiers that wage war on each other.

The story begins in 1906 and ends in 1953, following the lives of Papa Jack Godman, his sons, Kaspar and Emil and Cathy Wray, who aged 15 and pregnant had run away from home. Cathy finds sanctuary at the Emporium, and Papa Jack tells her how he came to live in London and founded the Emporium, how he had found in making toys a kind of magic, a way of reaching a man’s soul.

At first Cathy lived in the Wendy House, which like the Tardis is larger on the inside than the outside, with Sirius the patchwork dog. It was where her daughter, Martha was born. Kasper and Emil are caught up in a battle for control of the Emporium, and they both fall in love with Cathy, but it is Kasper that she marries. The years pass, the First World War breaks out, Kasper joins up, but Emil’s application is refused, so he stays at home, developing his toy soldiers. I was struck by the irony and pathos of a world at war mirrored in the battles fought by Emil’s toys soldiers. And things come a head when Kasper returns a damaged man and retreats into his mind. What happens next changes their lives for ever.

The Toymakers is a wonderful book, one that will stay with me, not just about the horrors of war and rivalry, but above all about the power of love, the magic of childhood and the effect of toys – when you are young you play with toys to feel grown up, imagining what it will be like to be an adult. But when you are an adult what you want from toys is to feel that you are young again. They remind you that the world was once as filled with magic as your imagination will allow.

Many thanks to the publishers for a review copy via NetGalley.
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