Book Review: Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard (2004)

I bought this is York as the third addition to my bargain deal of 3 books for 5 pounds. I honestly just grabbed the first book that I saw to go along with the two other books that I had been dying to read. To my surprise, this book turned out to be one of my favoriteMr Timothy books.

It seems that fanfiction isn’t limited to the interwebs. Louis Bayard borrows Tiny Tim from Dickens and explores his life as a young adult. Tim, who is not so tiny anymore, only walks with a slight limp and has long ago lost his crutch thanks to the support of his Uncle N, or as we know him, Scrooge. We meet Tim in a courtesan house, teaching the matron of the house how to read in an exchange for room and board. You see, Timothy’s parents have died, and trying to become independent, he stays away from his Uncle N (even though he can’t stay away long). Sometimes to supplement his income, Timothy will go along with Captain Gully searching for bodies in the Thames.

It’s all well and good, but you see Timothy keeps on seeing girls. Little girls who have died in most unnatural ways, and each of them imprinted with a strange “G” on their arm, with eyes in the center. Timothy also keeps on running into this one particular girl who intrigues him in such a way that he cannot let it alone. With the help of a street urchin by the name of Colin the Melodious, they find the girl whose name is Philomela. But for Mr. Timothy, this meeting will lead him down a much darker and dangerous past that even he could not have predicted. Add the fact that he keeps on seeing his dead father everywhere, then you have one compelling story.

I was immediately drawn in by the first words of the novel. In face, whenever I described the book to others they would say the first line. The conversations would go like this:

Me: Oh, it’s about Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol

Them: Not so Tiny anymore.

Or some variation of that. But very rarely do I ever read a book that draws me in by the first line. What I do believe that helped Bayard out is that most of us have a preconceived notion of Tiny Tim, and he completely throws a wrench in your thinking. Of course at first I was a little worried about how the characterization of Tiny Tim turned Timothy would play out but my fears were needless. Bayard masterfully crafts Timothy’s personality and even gives a glimpse into how he turned into the person he is during the novel. There were also some moments when I became very fearful of Timothy’s intentions with Philomela. You see he is over 20 and she is under 10, and I wondered why he would be so invested in her well being, and Colin’s as well. But Bayard steered the plot in a direction that made me applaud Timothy’s actions.

There are several climaxes in the story which, in my humble opinion, became a little tiring. But I am also sure that it is because I was so eager to see how Mr. Timothy would end. Bayard allows us to become so close to the characters that I mainly just wanted to make sure that they would be fine by the end of the story. Not to give too much away but I was very satisfied by the ending.

Mr. Timothy was also written in a format that I was a little confused by. And by that I mean the formatting of the book. Quotations marks aren’t used, and that really threw me off but I quickly became accustomed to it. In fact, the format made it seem as if Timothy was talking to me instead of a third person narrative.

All around Mr. Timothy is an amazing novel that I recommend to everyone. It is a perfect young adult novel, and I have read it multiple times since I have bought it less than a year ago. Louis Bayard has me hook, line and sinker because I am now scouring the web and bookstores for more of his novels. This is a very rare feat Bayard. Well played.

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