The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

My daughter gave me three books for Christmas. They are books she has enjoyed and thought I would too. What a thoughtful present! The first of the books that I read was The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale.

The Toymakers opens in 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. The story takes place in the toy emporium. 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, their whispers begin because the Emporium is open!

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. Cathy who at 16 and pregnant answers a newspaper add to work in Papa Jack’s Emporium, she sees it as her chance to escape from entering the home for young mothers. 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, this one is truly magical. The Emporium is more than just a shop it is a place where children dreams come true and adults are transported back to a time of ease and innocence.

In The Toymakers, the author allows you to marvel at the wonderfully magical sounding toys and then suddenly we are brought tragically to the raging War that is going on and how it effects the employees. So whilst we have magical realism we experience a dark shift with the tale and the way war affects the young men who live through it, and the Emporium itself but The Toymakers still leaves you completely spellbound.

The Author

Robert Dinsdale was born in Northallerton, North Yorkshire in 1981 and went on to study at the University of Leeds.

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