Mr. Mac and Me

Bloomsbury USA. Jan. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9781620408834. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781620408841. F
On the eve of World War I, in poor health and financially strapped, architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his artist wife, Margaret, wash up in a seaside English village. The working-class townspeople regard them with curiosity and suspicion—they are foreigners (from Scotland!), artists (Bohemians!), have German books on their shelves (art catalogs), and roam the countryside with binoculars (the better to view their floral subjects). However, to young Thomas Maggs, son of the local innkeeper, they are exotic and enchanting. In their tidy cottage, he finds a welcome refuge from his schoolwork, his endless round of chores, and his angry, drunken father. Tom and his new friends observe the changing landscape when war breaks out as zeppelins fly overhead, soldiers are billeted in town, and local boys join up and die.
VERDICT Along with popular fictional biographies such as Loving Frank, The Paris Wife, and Z, this period novel from Freud (Hideous Kinky; Lucky Break) will surely captivate. It may also inspire a visit to Glasgow for tea and scones in the Willow Tearooms, a Mackintosh architectural gem. Warmly recommended.
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