At the Firefly Gate by Linda Newbery

atthefireflygate.jpgOccasionally a book pops into your hands and you wonder how it managed to stay under the radar for so long. At the Firefly Gate by Linda Newbery is one of these books. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the story that has left this one unknown to so many readers, but it deserves to be read by a wide audience.

I first heard about this one from Deslily awhile back and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since. At the Firefly Gate is a ghost story, a story of friendship, a coming of age story, and a love story for children and adults all wrapped up in just over 150 pages and it’s told beautifully. Henry is in his 6th year of school and has just moved from London to live in a cottage in the country. He’s never been overly confident of himself and is afraid that he won’t make any friends. On his first night at his new home he sees a man standing under his garden gate surrounded by fireflies with a bomber jacket slung over his shoulder. Only no one else sees him.

He meets the family living next door and is forced to hang out with Grace who is less a couple of years older than him and less than pleasant. But he finds that he enjoys the company of her grandmother, Dottie, more than anyone and strikes up quite a friendship with her. As Henry continues to have dreams about days gone by from the WWII era and of pilots from that time, he finds that he knows the stories that Dottie shares before she tells them. He also starts to notice that Dottie looks towards the Firefly Gate as well when the man with the bomber jacket appears. He begins hearing planes that fly overhead at night that no one else hears. Puzzle after puzzle presents itself leading him to answers of the past as he forms his own new friendships in the present.

I enjoyed every page of At the Firefly Gate and Linda Newbery is an author to keep an eye on. This is quite a refreshing book that tells a simple story and examines relationships in every sense of the word. I love the melancholy feel of this book and the nostalgia that she so wonderfully created of a time gone by and of a present day country side in England. 4.5/5

(copyright 2008 by Chris Howard for Curled Up With A Good Book)

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14 Responses

  1. I seem to be having problems commenting here…hopefully my brain and my hands will communicate a little better this time.

    Anyway, this book sounds like a real treasure! I’ve never heard of it before, so many thanks, Chris! As usual, your review has left me itching to head right over to Amazon. I love the cover!

  2. I enjoyed this one as well. I love books where teens develop relationships with older folks. And most WWII books are my cup of tea–though I prefer home front to actual battle commentary.

  3. Debi, Your comment came through just fine 🙂 My brain and hands do the same thing sometimes! A treasure is a great way to describe this book. I’m really happy to have it on my shelves. I loved the cover to this one too. It’s beautiful and fits the book just perfectly.

    Becky, Yay, another person who’s read this one! I actually heard about it from Deslily who reviewed it awhile back. I like books where teens develop relationships with older people too. There’s something special about learning from an older generation and having that bond of friendship passed down and all that wisdom that comes with life. I like WWII books as well..always have, though so many of them are so depressing. This one wasn’t. It had it’s sad moment, but I thought it was an uplifting book overall.

  4. I didn’t remember hearing of this one before either. It sounds lovely. I love books with that feel of quiet melancholy and nostalgia. One more for the wishlist.

  5. Sounds like a spooky short read. I hadn’t heard of it before so thanks for that!

  6. wow, been a while since I read this one.. (but smiling because you liked it).. I could not believe this book didn’t have some awards ya know? It just read like it should. Great little story here, and glad you got around to it.

  7. oooh, that sounds sooo good! I like a good ghost story/time travel/disparate ages love story. Is it vaguely reincarnationy? For some reason it seems to remind me of Tom’s Midnight Garden….the time shifts you hint at…

    Saw the copyright for curled up. Never saw that before. Congratulations. Nice site. -C

  8. Nymeth & Rhinoa, Great little read that I think you’d both enjoy!

    Deslily, Yeah, it’s been on my wishlist awhile! I was really surprised that this one didn’t get any awards! It deserves some.

    Carole, Yep it is vaguuely reincarnationy in the way that Henry reminds the older lady of her long lost fiance from WWII who was also named Henry (the man who keeps appearing at Firefly Gate who Henry keeps dreaming about) It’s a really cool book! It’s like a sweet ghost story. Not really spooky at all. And thanks for the congrats on curledup.com. I’ve been reviewing for them for awhile, but I haven’t done any reviews since November :/ I felt so horrible! So I’m finally getting to that stack now of reviews that I’ve been owing them!

  9. Sounds like a really interesting book. I need something different from what I’m reading these days. Too many long, ponderous books. YA is always a fun change.

  10. Kim, It’s a great little book. Not long at all…just a nice little simple story…just what I needed at the time I think. You’d enjoy it I’m sure!

  11. This sounds really good!! Great review. I’ve added it to the TBR Mountain List.

  12. Heather, Great to hear it’s on top of the mountain 🙂 It’s a great book!

  13. Didn’t Newbery also write “Set in Stone”? I read that a few months ago and REALLY enjoyed it. It is an odd hybrid of “Jane Eyre” and “Turn of the Screw”….

  14. Sycorax, I’m not really sure if she wrote Set in Stone or not, but I’m definitely going to have to check it out if she did. I can see how she would write a story like that though and I would love to read it! This book was amazing.

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