The Green Man is one of the oldest thematic figures in this country's folklore, and Linda Newbery has taken this motif as a starting point for her new book, Lob.
Lob is an ageless wanderer, who walks the roads till he meets his next special person to whom he will devote himself for the rest of their life. He will work with them as they clear and sow and tend their plants, to bring their gardens stunningly to life. Not everyone can see Lob, but Grandpa Will is one of the lucky ones, and now young Lucy can see him too - so whenever she visits her grandparents, and helps Grandpa Will in his garden, she knows Lob is there with them, helping, too...
Though set in a modern world - urban traffic, waiting lists for city allotments, etc. - there's something timeless about this lovely story, not only in its theme, which links us back to generations past, but also in the telling of it: elegant, sedate, beautifully crafted, filled with a warm kind of hope and old-fashioned charm. It's also an unashamedly poetic, writerly sort of book (for something that is being sold to quite young readers), which in other hands might have weighed it down, but not so here. There are not many writers who could have pulled off a story like this - but Linda Newbery is one of them. Very lovely.
Recommended by Daniel Hahn
10 months ago