Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that both of them know will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen on the brink of adulthood, that time is coming.

With the theatre under threat of closure, Hannah and Tom have more than one fight on their hands to stop the stories ending. But maybe, just maybe, one final day of magic might just save them both.

A tale about growing up, the beauty of a special bond between father and daughter, and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you’ll read all year.

Following on from his wonderful debut “A Boy Made of Blocks”, Keith Stuart has managed to produce another heartrending and poignant book in “Days of Wonder”;
a beautifully written and moving tale.
Tom has been bringing up his 15 year old daughter Hannah alone since his wife walked out on them over ten years previously. Hannah was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – a degenerative heart disease – at age 4 and her future, if she had one at all, was filled with uncertainty. Tom has dealt with this devastating curve ball as best he can and is understandably quite overprotective of Hannah, a fact that causes Hannah much chagrin as she is feisty and independent, and realising that she might not have as long to live as others, she wants to fit as much into the time she has left as she possibly can. Tom runs a small local theatre – The Willow Tree – and Hannah has pretty much been brought up there amongst the cast and crew – a somewhat ramshackle, but caring family of friends. They’ve rubbed along together quite nicely, but now it seems that Hannah’s health is taking a turn for the worse.
Narrated by Tom and Hannah alternatively, and interspersed with letters to the unknown ‘Willow’, the tone changes between the two viewpoints – Tom’s harassed, well-meaning but awkward attempts to look after his little girl, and his teenage daughter’s irritation at his interfering. ‘Hannah’s’ writing really does read like a teenager. All overdramatic. It’s a clever way of relaying the story to the reader because it shows how different the same event can seem depending on the perspective you are viewing it from – it also adds some (often dark) humour.
As with both of Keith Stuart’s books, there is a lot of emotive writing, and in my opinion it is this area that the author excels in. There are laugh out loud moments as we follow Tom on various Internet dates (one involving a pizza is my particular favourite) and there are times when the interaction between Hannah and her best friend, 81 year old actress Margaret can bring a lump to your throat.
This book is brave, evocative and honest. There was a scene with Margaret that I felt was really quite over the top but it added brevity to a difficult subject and actually set up some scenes further along.
The epilogue is beautiful and moving and brought tears to my eyes. There was an ‘aaaaah’ moment which was perfectly played out and the ending was just…beautiful. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I received a copy of this book via the Publisher in return for an honest review.