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Book DetailsISBN: 9781922330727
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Book Review: The Wingmaker by Mette Jakobsen - Reviewed by CloggieA (27 Jul 2021)
55 stars The Wingmaker is the third novel by Danish-born Australian author, Mette Jakobsen. She really needs to excel on this statue for the National Museum, and Vince has offered his newly bought, if somewhat remote, property: Vega can set up the five-hundred-year-old angel and restore her wings in one of the empty rooms of the Seafarers’ Hotel.
Crippled by agoraphobia since her heart surgery six months ago, Vega is just summoning the wherewithal to cross the empty space from the taxi to the derelict, windswept building when a naked man runs out the front door and into the sea. Naked, except for a gold knitted crown. This, it turns out, is Gunnar, the Afghanistan veteran whom Vince has employed as a handyman to renovate his latest investment.
While she is an experienced restorer of marble, Vega has a two-week deadline and was expecting to have the place to herself: no interruptions, no distractions. But it’s no surprise really, the run-down building and the damaged soldier: her adopted father is a successful Italian restaurateur who might be a visionary or just a kind man with a weakness for broken things. Lame pets. And people. Like Vega and co-adoptee, Suze.
Ignoring persistent texts from the boyfriend who broke it off when she was post-op, Vega gets to work, but the hundreds of marble fragments aren’t cooperating, and when the heater breaks down, it becomes apparent just how inept Gunnar is. The bunch of farmers who turn up to use the foyer as a ballroom don’t help matters either.
Tis is quite a short read (it can easily be devoured in one sitting) but Jakobsen manages to pack a great deal of story into that. Her characters are quirky and appealing: a loud, brash, flamboyant sister; a loyal, supportive, health-food-nut friend; a group of farmers who love to tango; an elephant-observatory designer; a horse-trainer who knows when to ask and when to listen.
And the hotel itself is a character, with its chandeliers and numerous deer paintings and pineapple and hummingbird wallpaper and its dive-bombing green canaries and pink share bathrooms.
Jakosen’s tale is at times sad, at times laugh-out-loud funny, as she explores how childhood experiences can shape adult behaviour and thinking: why you might not allow yourself to be lost in a pleasurable moment, why you might settle for less than you deserve, just to feel safe. Humour and heartache: a beautifully written feel-good read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.
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