Goodnight Mister Tom is a classic. It has been adapted to screen and theatre and is one of my favourite books of all time. Ever. I first came across this book in the late 90’s whilst in year 4/5 when Mr O’Neil, my headmaster and year teacher read us Goodnight Mister Tom as our afternoon book. I was enthralled then and I still am somewhat 14 years later. It’s a story about love. A love of an old man and young boy who, both bereft of love, find it in their new-found Father Son relationship.
We first see both Will Beach and Tom Oakley on Tom’s doorstep. Will has been evacuated from London to a sleepy little village, Little Weirwold. Will has been mentally and physically abused by his mother and later we surmise by his father, when he still had one, for most of his life. Tom lost his wife and new born son many many years ago and since shut his heart to anyone, so it is with great regret that the lady for the homing of evacuees disturbs Toms quite and grumpy life.
We see Will blossom under the gruff care of Tom and in turn see Tom open up under the influence of a sickly little boy. Will learns to read and write from Tom, makes friends for the first time and discovers he has a natural gift for drawing. Tom enters back into the social
world of Little Weirwold, taking over the reigns of Church Choir Master and voluntary fire watchman.
Both their worlds are once more turned upside down when Will’s mother calls for him to return to London suddenly, claiming herself to be ill and missing her little boy. Full of misgivings about Wills former life under his mother, we watch him return to London laden with gifts and a childish notion of his life before. We find out his mother had a baby girl when he was away and that she hasn’t changed in her attitude towards Will. In fact her abusive tendencies seemed to have increased and a worried Mister Tom travels to London when he hasn’t heard from Will for a few weeks.
We find war-torn London in the middle of the Blitz and Tom has to take cover in one of the public air raid shelters where what he hears gives him more cause for concern. Nobody has seen or heard from Will or knew he was to arrive back home.
I shan’t continue with the plot as I believe you must read the book and hopefully that has given you a taster for what is to come! Suffice to say, this is a beautifully crafted novel about love and trust between a lonely old man and a confused and wounded young boy. Will grows tremendously under Toms care and you glow with pride whenever he achieves something that before he would never have had the opportunity to do. Michelle Magorian paints each scene beautifully and really draws you into the story. It is found within the children’s fiction section in a books store but is easily read and loved by adults too.
My verdict for this one is 10/10 the first book so far in this blog to have received full marks so well worth a read or a watch either on film or stage.