Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Ticklemore Christmas Toy Shop, by Liz Davies

Lilac Tree Books, October 2020

Hattie Jenkins is nearly eighty, a widow for fifteen years, but still active, social, and working in the Bookylicious cafe and bookstore. She has friends, but she and her husband never had children, and she has no family.

Alfred Miller is about the same age, a widower, but for not quite three years. He's depressed, lonely, and even more unhappy now that his daughter, Sara, has insisted that he come live in her house. She's married, newly retired, and convinced that her father is in the early stages of dementia. She tries to manage every detail of his life, in order to keep him safe. Sara has decided it's time to sell Alfred's house, the one he lived in with his wife, Dorothy, for many years.

One day, on one of his not really authorized walks, Alfred goes into Bookylicious and meets Hattie.

Hattie is nosy, Alfred is grumpy, in addition to being upset that Sara wants empty out his house of all the things he couldn't bring with him to her house. It takes a while, and a few more meetings, but he tells Hattie what's going on. And this leads, by the usual circuitous route, to the discovery that Alfred used to make wooden toys as a hobby, and they're all in the shed at his old house. Sara thinks they're worthless, and can't possibly be up to modern safety standards, so they have to go, too. That's when Hattie really gets going.

What results is a wonderfully enjoyable, occasionally maddening, adventure in friendship, improvising a mad plan to get Alfred caring about life again, found family, and rebuilding family relationships.

A nearby soap shop is closing, and will be empty in the weeks leading up to Christmas, an empty shop on the main shopping street in Ticklemore, at the worst possible time. At least, until Hattie, with the help of the publican of the Ticklemore Tavern, Hattie's friend Nell who owns the antique shop Ticklemore Treasure Trove, and other key figures in the little town, launch a plan to sell Alfred's toys in a temporary shop they'll call The Ticklemore Christmas Toy Shop. It's crazy, and fun, and has many bumps along the way.

And somewhere along the way, our two old folks, Hattie and Alfred, might be starting to experience new love.

Very warm, very Christmassy, and very satisfying. Recommended.

I received an electronic galley of this book from the publisher and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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