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A Year of Marvellous Ways

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  6,979 ratings  ·  755 reviews
Cornwall, 1947. Marvellous Ways is a ninety-year-old woman who's lived alone in a remote creek for nearly all her life. Recently she's taken to spending her days sitting on the steps of her caravan with a pair of binoculars. She's waiting for something - she's not sure what, but she'll know it when she sees it. Freddy Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the war. He's ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published June 18th 2015 by Headline Book Publishing (first published April 9th 2015)
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Cee Davis
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Debbie Cullen I found Marvellous Ways kept me reading, couldn't put it down but it didn't really grab me until about a third of the way through the book. When God W…moreI found Marvellous Ways kept me reading, couldn't put it down but it didn't really grab me until about a third of the way through the book. When God Was a Rabbit grabbed me right away. I would say it's just as good, just a bit different but still has that same writing style that I absolutely love. There's a magic to both books. When I got to the end of both books I felt like I had read something really special. (less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  6,979 ratings  ·  755 reviews

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Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
This book is filled with imagery beautifully painted. It is filled with song, the harmonies and accompaniments to a melody in the key of life. These feelings can usually only be found in heart stirring poetry, yet they are found throughout this moving story written in prose.

An old woman at the end of her life and a young man at the beginning of his. Young, broken Francis Drake comes into the old woman’s sphere of existence to deliver a letter, and finds deliverance for himself. Through her stori
“What a dream I had
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline of smoky Burgundy
Softer than the rain

“I wandered empty streets down
Past the shop displays
I heard cathedral bells
Tripping down the alleyways
As I walked on”

-- For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her, Simon & Garfunkel, Songwriters: Paul Simon

”So here she was, old now, standing by the roadside waiting.

“Ever since she had entered her ninetieth year Marvellous Ways spent a good part of her day waiting, and not for death, as you might assume,
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, brit
A charming, magical read. The writing is superb, almost poetical and the characters well-developed.
Marvellous Ways is a kind, caring but strong and wise woman. A healer in many ways, but to a degree she is also naive, sheltered from the world, but that makes her even more appealing as a character and vulnerable as a person. When hers and Drake's paths cross, a magical journey begins, a journey of self-discovery, forgiveness and a beautiful friendship starts.
I loved that book. If you enjoy readi
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-books
This is a difficult book to review. Those readers who enjoy beautiful sentences and lyrical writing will rave about it. Those who just want a good story will struggle to get into it. I had to keep re-reading bits as I keep losing the thread of the tale. And I'm still not sure I understood what happened in the end!
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Year Of Marvellous Ways is a beautiful heart warming read that i enjoyed more than i expected (which is good SO GOOD)

It's about this eighty-nine-year-old brilliant woman called Marvellous Ways -I love her name SO BLOODY MUCH!!- Who sits by a creek waiting for her last adventure, she had plenty of them though but she is still waiting for the latest. And it's about Francis Drake a young soldier, worn out of war and broken hearted, these two characters will find their way to each other's lives
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is such a beautiful book. In some ways it reminded me of Ben Okri's A Famished Road. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's one of those very special books that is beautifully written and has a great story. I absolutely loved it.
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, first_reads
She asked only for a moment so that the cataract veil between Time-Past and Time-Now could shift.

Are you a valuing the journey person, or all about the destination? If it's the former, how important is the style of the journey for you?

The blurb for this book (and the gorgeous cover; we all know I'm a sucker for a beautiful cover) sucked me right in. But this is not a straightforward story told in a straightforward way. The book has a magic realism feel to it; though the book ties itself to p
Maya Panika
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The story of the last year of Marvellous Ways, ninety years old and still bathing naked in the creek. Set (I'm guessing it's never stated) in the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. It's not an easy one to get into, with disparate characters introduced in stages, giving the opening chapters a jerky feel. The tale does not flow at the start and I can understand how some have found this hard to stick with and given up. It requires slow reading. It needs to be savoured. Stay with it: the story settles ...more

The writing wasn't my cup of tea, particularly Marvellous's chapters, it was hard to understand what was going on. She kept banging on about starfish and weird dreams, and flip flopped between the past and present and it was difficult to keep track of what was when. It got better later on in the book, but even then it still wasn't great, her chapters were a wishy washy mess of magical realism and bizarre ponderings. I wasn't keen on Marvellous's personality either, she was too pathetic,
Jan 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, historical, drama
Got this as a proof. And I can't decide if I liked it. After getting used to the style ( no "talking" marks anywhere in the book - which totally annoyed me) I wanted to see where everything tied in. It took about 3 chapters to adjust to the style and to be honest I found it hard work. Maybe people who rave on about Style and Lyrical Text and all that jazz will love it. Maybe it is some sort of experimental form. Personally I found it distracting and irritating.
The plot had more coincidences and
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'd read and enjoyed When Rabbit was God, so I was looking forward to seeing what Sarah Winman would write next. And it was so worth the wait.

I absolutely love this magical, marvellous book. I feel as if I've been searching for a book like this for some time. One that seeps right into your soul, like the water from Marvellous' creek running over your welly boots, and makes you feel as squelchy as the mud she sinks down into when collecting cockles.

Everyone needs to spend some time with Marvellou
Sahil Javed
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Year of Marvellous Ways is a book about Marvellous Ways, a ninety-year-old woman who has lived alone in a remote creek all her life and is now waiting for something and Freddy Drake, a young soldier left reeling by the war who is on a journey to deliver a letter, as their paths cross.
“It was as if a blade had shucked his heart like an oyster and stolen the beauty within. He said his heart never started beating again, it just started working and I never understood the difference, not u
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Very poetically written but, in my opinion, not in a good way. The author spent half the time using complex poetic phrases that I had to re-read the paragraph again to understand what was going on. Also the author, for who knows what reason, decided not to use any quotation marks throughout so I had no idea who was talking to who! Also the writing is very unclear you don't know who's story you are reading about or whether it is in the present or past. Disappointing end. This should have been a D ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
A Year of Marvellous Ways is the story of Marvellous - her life and loves and Drake who arrives at her caravan by the sea in Cornwall, England. It is an unusual book and it took me awhile to acclimatise to it. I am used to speeding through a book! It takes a little while to get into the rhythm of reading it, I found it has to be read slowly - no skipping or I just might miss something.

The language is poetical, sometimes evocative of the beauty of nature and at others of the stark ordinary worki
I received a proof copy of this book through First Reads.

This book is so beautiful. It's moving and poignant and has elements of magical realism. Set in Cornwall in 1947, this absolutely brilliant book follows the last year of Marvellous Ways' life. She's 89 and has lived a lot of life but is still young at heart. She senses that something is coming and she's not sure what she's waiting for but she's waiting. A grieving young man, Drake, arrives in her little town and Marvellous nurses him back
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, kindle, n, net-galley

This is a lyrical, mystical story with a magical undertone. Marvellous is a wise old lady and she recounts her memories throughout the book. It’s a very evocative tale. She meets a man called Drake who needs nursing and they share their life histories. Their friendship forms a huge part of the story. It’s set in Cornwall which adds to the feel of the book .

It would make a great book for a book club- as the writing style may not appeal to everyone but would promote great discussions- and there ar
Jul 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Marvellous Ways is a little old lady who lives alone in a Cornish Creek waiting….until one day she gets an unexpected visitor.

Story in a nutshell

Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and the Creek she calls home is almost all she’s ever known. She spends her days sitting by the river, telescope in hand, waiting for something – she’s not sure what but she’ll know when she sees it.

One day she comes along an injured soldier, also with an unusual name – Francis Drake – and like Marvellous he is u
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I was attracted to this book straight away by it's beautiful cover, it really is lovely and it doesn't stop there, what's inside is even lovelier.

A Year of Marvellous Way's is actually about a wonderful lady who is actually called Marvellous Ways. It's 1947 and Marvellous reminded me very much of a gypsy woman, living in her caravan with people coming to her for help with potions to help with all sorts of ailments and problems. Through this wonderfully told story we find out more about who Marv
Katie Meyer-Robinson
Jul 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
maybe I just wasn't paying good enough attention but this was like the most confusing book I've ever read. quotation marks weren't used so half the time I was trying to figure out who was speaking. the other half of the time I was trying to figure out if they were in present day or if Marvellous was telling a story from the past. even when the story came together at the end I was like whaaaat? I don't not recommend it but I warn you that you'll need to pay more attention than I did or you too wi ...more
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
Sarah Winman is an accomplished writer. There’s no doubt about that. However, this book is proof that technical skill doesn’t necessarily translate into a good read, in the same way that clumsy writing isn’t always a hindrance to a heart-pounding story (*coughs* Twilight *coughs*)

A Year of Marvellous Ways is the story of the improbably-named Marvellous Ways, a ninety-year-old hermit who lives in a gypsy caravan by a creek in Cornwall. She’s kind of a wise woman, herbal healer type, who gathers o
Suze Lavender
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Marvellous Ways is a special lady. She's eighty-nine years old and she's living by herself in a creek. She's lived and loved, but didn't get the chance to grow old with the person she wanted to be with the most. When Drake joins her after a traumatic ending of his stay in London she knows he needs a place to stay. He was a soldier in the Second World War and he's fulfilling a dying soldier's wish to deliver a letter. They weren't friends, but he still travels a long way to keep this promise.

Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Anna by: Paul & Adele
Shelves: fiction, wwii
How capricious emotional reactions to books can be. I really enjoyed Sarah Winman’s other novel, When God Was a Rabbit, which is written in exactly the same style as this. Yet because I didn’t connect emotionally with the characters in ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’, that style felt twee and in places strained. The two novels are very similar structurally as well as stylistically, although ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ is set in the early 20th century rather than the early 21st. Perhaps Winman’s conc ...more
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to enjoy reading this book... I loved the idea of "Marvellous Ways" and her life. But sadly, I found the story confusing and disconnected, and at times very difficult to follow the storyline.

"Marvellous" is a unique senior (89-90yrs old) who lives a lonely and isolated life, until Drake finds himself washed up in the creek by her home/ boathouse. People talk about her... seeing her as odd, eccentric and not someone they want to get to know. Marvellous is drawn to the water and
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very poetically written and quite lyrical book with delightfully expressive passages. There are parts that describe life and emotions very well, you could properly open A Year of Marvellous Ways on any page and find something quotable.

But having said that it's very indistinct in the story. Nothing is really anchored, at times it is so hazy it isn't really clear what exactly is supposed to have happened. It's very easy to lose track of the story and have to re-read parts. Its also a bit irrita
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
What a strange yet incredibly beautiful book. It was like reading someone's dream. Winman's prose is simply stunning. It's incredible how she can string everyday words into moments of beauty.
Alex - coffeeloving_bookoholic
a marvellous book with a marvellous story about marvellous people - i am soooo sad, that it ended ;-( i want to have more marvellous pages!
Fiona Cairns
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is only one way to read and give justice to this novel, and that is to give yourself up to its fairytale, dreamlike quality. Marvellous is an 89-year old woman, the daughter of a mermaid, who has lived most of her days in a caravan on a remote Cornish creek. Meanwhile on the battle front of France a soldier, Drake, comes across a dying comrade who asks him to deliver a last letter home to his father in England. And Drake who, having lived his life with the sense of loss that came from neve ...more
Natalie  S
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Sarah Winman’s A Year of Marvellous Ways has a lot in common with Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. Both novels are beautifully written and blend fantasy with a kind of understated realism. And in Winman’s case, there may be some nice writing to be savoured but it is also a frustrating read overall.

Marvellous Ways is an old woman who lives in Cornwall and is waiting for something to happen. That something is a chance meeting with Francis Drake, a returning solider from the Second World War who
Sue Smith
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book, it was a wonderfully magical read. If you haven't read any of Sarah Winman, please correct that error and pick up something she's written - her writing has such flow, but it won't be like anything else you've ever read.

This book is about the magic of love .... about the magic of life ..... and when the two are properly mixed together, how it can heal can heal everything.

Life and love move in mysterious ways and there are times where it can leave you amazed an
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A magical book about love and relationships and all the complexities therein. Set around a magical heart warming place and characters who are colourful, warm, loving yet troubled. Family, friends, love, loss, healing, life lessons & magical coincidences bring the story to life and weave a thread through the lives of the characters.
A pleasure to read.
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Sarah Winman (born 1964) is a British actress and author. In 2011 her debut novel When God Was a Rabbit became an international bestseller and won Winman several awards including New Writer of the Year in the Galaxy National Book Awards.

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