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Mr Mac & Me

Mr Mac and Me

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Recorded exclusively for Editorial Intelligence's Names Not Numbers 2015 conference. Esther Freud reads from her novel 'Mr Mac and Me' published by Bloomsbury.


Editorial Intelligence's 3 Minute Reads - Esther Freud

Click the images below to hear Esther...

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It is 1914, and Thomas Maggs,  the son of the local publican, lives  in a village  on the Suffolk coast. He is the youngest child, and the only son surviving.   Life is quiet - shaped by the seasons, fishing and farming, the summer visitors, and the girls who come down from the Highlands every year to gut and pack the herring.Then one day a mysterious Scotsman arrives. To Thomas he looks for all the world like a detective, in his  black cape and hat of felted wool, and the way he puffs on his pipe as if he’s Sherlock Holmes.  

Mac is what the locals call him when they whisper about him in the Inn.  And whisper they do, for he  sets off on his walks at  unlikely hours, and stops  to  examine the humblest flowers.  He is seen on the beach,  staring out across the waves as if he’s searching  for clues. But  Mac isn’t a detective, he’s the  architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and together with   his red-haired artist wife, they soon become a source of fascination and wonder to Thomas.

Yet just as Thomas and Mac’s friendship begins to blossom, war with Germany is declared. The summer guests flee and are replaced by regiments of soldiers on their way to Belgium, and  as the  brutality of war weighs increasingly heavily on this coastal community, they become more suspicious of Mac and his curious behaviour…In this tender and compelling story of an unlikely friendship, Esther Freud paints a vivid portrait of a home front community during the First World War, and of a man who was one of the most brilliant and misunderstood artists of his generation.

Mr Mac and Me 4 sheet

'An absorbing, gripping, atmospheric novel of friendship and war.'  

Evening Standard, Books of the Year.


'A luminous tale of war and art… A haunting, haunted story… captured in Freud's delicate lyrical prose.'  



'Undoubtedly her most accomplished novel yet… Freud is a modern literary rarity: a born storyteller, poetic but never overwrought; thoughtful but never showy.'

The Times

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