Marta is unhappy. For quietly aloof Gregory and his sister Janet, Marta, with her thick Ukrainian accent, her good cooking, and her stories, is the anchor of the house. Mother and Father, both busy architects, are gone all day and sometimes at night. Marta is always there; and the children, sensing her unhappiness, do not want her to go away. When they find out that Marta desires a "good place" in the kitchen, nine-year-old Gregory, with precocious young Janet in tow, sets out to find her a Ukrainian icon in busy, modern London. Master storyteller Rumer Godden deftly brings to life a portrait of a lonely boy discovering the creative power of love. Illustrated.
This is a deeply satisfying story, on so many levels. Gregory's ingenuity in creating a home-made icon will appeal to anyone who has ever felt that "where there's a will, there's a way." His gradual emotional awakening, and growing sense of connection to those around him, is a joy to observe. Never didactic or overdone, Godden's gentle narrative invites the reader to consider the connections between respect and compassion, and the fact that we do not need to share (or even understand) the spiritual beliefs of others in order to enter into their feelings. A beautiful, beautiful book.