The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll is such a delightful read. It’s a wonderful, magical love story and it captured my heart early on and didn’t let go. As I turned the last page I was already missing the characters and the story. I found myself laughing at times and crying at others. Andrew Nicoll’s writing style is refreshingly different and I think that’s what ultimately is so beautiful about this book.
This love story is between The Good Mayor of Dot, Tibo Krovic, and his secretary Agathe Stopak although at first she doesn’t have a clue that he’s been pining for her for ages. The Good Mayor, called so for the reason that he always says the right thing, does the right thing and everyone loves him is absolutely, hopelessly in love with Agathe. So much so, that he spies on her through the crack under the door when she comes into work in the mornings.
Now Agathe Stopak is a lonely woman. She’s married but her marriage went quickly downhill when she and her husband lost their child. Agathe would like the old magic back but nothing she tries seems to work. She’s still a young woman and she wants to be loved.
One day The Good Mayor is busy watching Agathe from the office tower while she lunches by the fountain. It just so happens that her lunch container is going to take a tumble into the fountain and he races down the stairs and to the fountain to help her and finally, out of the blue, gets up the nerve to ask her to lunch at the same time. Thus begins their romance of sorts but The Good Mayor is just not quick enough with the intimacies and Agathe is left wondering if he actually loves her not. Unfortunately this completely changes the course of events to the rest of the story and people’s lives spiral out of control.
The way this story is told makes it so much more than just a love story. First it’s narrated by St. Walpurnia who was a bearded nun and has since her death, watched over the tiny town of Dot. The people of the town pray to her for just about everything they want or need. Then there is the entire cast of quirky characters in the novel from the quite large lawyer with the dog to the Italian woman in the coffee shop who has a way with magic and can see things. There are some descriptions of food and a brass band that not everyone is privy to seeing. It’s also about loss and friendship and more importantly just what you will do for those you consider true friends.
The writing in this novel is simply beautiful. There are many passages worth sharing but one that stands out for me since I always do love descriptions of areas and such was this one…
- ‘The trees along the black canal held up bare arms to the sky. Snow was piling in the dips between their branches. It had already hidden the cobbles that ran in front of the tenements and smoothed itself over the rusty railings between the pavement and the water’s edge and the cascade of downy snowflakes falling all around made the street lamps sparkle like the glitter ball that hangs from the ceiling of the Empress Ballroom in Ampersand Street. (pg 194, The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll)
This is a debut novel from Andrew Nicoll and if The Good Mayor is any sign of this author’s talent, then he is one to keep an eye out for. I would definitely love to read whatever he may decide to create next. This book was released by Random House Canada on May 12, 2009 and you can buy it here in Canada and here in the US.