Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian was first published in 1980 and a new 40th anniversary edition has been published. I hadn’t read it before although I had seen the film. It’s a great read.
Willie Beech is a 9 year old who has been evacuated from Deptford in London to the rural community of Little Weirwold. He has been allocated to Tom Oakley, an elderly widower who has been a bit of a recluse since the death of his wife and child 40 years previously. It doesn’t take Tom long realise that Willie has suffered terrible abuse at the hands of his mother. All his life Willie has been told that he is wicked and has never heard a kind word from his mother. Tom Oakley copes with the bed-wetting and tends to the multiple bruises and scabs on Tom’s emaciated body.
Slowly Will or William as he is called now gains confidence and even learns to read and write helped by Tom. But it isn’t only Will who blossoms, Tom becomes more involved with the other villagers who are surprised at the change in him. He had cut himself off from people after the death of his young wife and was a bit of a curmudgeon until he had another human being to nurture and protect.
Of course Will’s mother writes to say he must go back home to London as she needs him. Tom and Will are both devastated, but after horror comes happiness, all’s well that ends well! I was sent a digital copy of this book by Penguin/Puffin via NetGalley. My thanks to both.
This is a great read. This 40th anniversary edition also contains the short story which the author wrote which inspired her to write the book. I also enjoyed the 1998 film which featured John Thaw as Mr Tom, it looks like you can watch the whole film on YouTube.