I’m a member of the Scattered Authors’ Society and a few years ago, at Charney, the SAS’s annual
retreat, I heard Penny Dolan read from her then Work In
Progress. It was an account of an exhausted boy being driven and harangued on a long walk through a storm, and it was
thrilling. Penny is an expert storyteller and reader, and her writing and reading combined was mesmeric.
I’ve never forgotten it.
I kept meaning to read the finished, published book, A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E,
but you know how it is – work and stuff kept getting in the way.
But finally I have, and how glad I am I did. The whole book is
as mesmeric as that short reading.
It’s a richly emotional, detailed, vivid romp of a tale, told in beautiful, rhythmic
prose. The good characters are appealing and loveable, the villains wonderfully hissable, but every character is distinct and memorable.
The plot is of lost heirs, lost children, lost mothers; of schemes and stragems for a fortune, all of it
brought to life by Penny’s swift vivid descriptions, and her great sympathy and understanding. Mouse’s suffering at his dreadful school is real, his
longing for his lost mother is real, and his joy in the friends he finds is real too. The bitter schoolmaster, his bullying son, the old Punch and
Judy man and his little dog, the theatre people – they all contribute to making this a lovely, lovely book, one to read and re-read, to read aloud, and to revel in.