I first read this a year ago and returned to re-reading it last week. It was obviously good the first time around, because the second time, I finished the book in a day and a half.
Although relatively short at just under two hundred pages, Newton's novel enchants and grabs you from the word go. Set around the time of the second world war, the story follows two brothers, Wilfred and Duncan, who set off on an adventure to buy themselves a tram. Curious as it sounds, the boys are fascinated by the idea of owning a tram.
Wilfred narrates and we grow to learn of his caring ways and how he has to help support his brother Duncan, who does not have the power of speech. It is a touching novel, flecked with glimmers of romance and comedy and also moments of bitter sadness.
The imagery in the book is so rich that you feel like you are being transported back to the time of the war and joining the boys on their travels. My favourite part was a lovely chapter where they buy a horse and travel the countryside, offering people lifts on their makeshift tram. It is fair to say that not a great deal really happens until the latter part of the novel, but this book is not about excitement, it is more about memories and Newton writes in such an engaging way that you become absorbed in the lives of the boys and feel you are travelling with them.
Easy to understand language would make this suitable for teens to adults alike. Quite unlike anything I have read before and oh so magical. I recommend this is a novel for holidays, light reading, rewarding and touching.