From the bestselling author of The Tall Man and The Arsonist, a personal tale about death, life and the enchantment of stories. With illustrations by Anna Walker.
‘A striking voyage of discovery.’ Observer
Let me tell you a story?
When Chloe Hooper’s partner is diagnosed with a rare and aggressive illness, she has to find a way to tell their two young sons.
By instinct, she turns to the bookshelf. Can the news be broken as a bedtime tale? Is there a perfect book to prepare children for loss? Hooper embarks on a quest to find what practical lessons children’s literature-with its innocent orphans and evil adults, magic, monsters and anthropomorphic animals-can teach about grief and resilience in real life.
As she discovers, ‘the right words are an incantation, a spell of hope for the future.’ From the Brothers Grimm to Frances Hodgson Burnett and Tolkien and Dahl-all of whom suffered childhood bereavements-she follows the breadcrumbs of the world’s favourite authors, searching for the deep wisdom in their books and lives.
Both memoir and manual, Bedtime Story is stunningly illustrated by the New York Times award-winning Anna Walker. In an age of worldwide uncertainty, here is a profound and moving exploration of the dark and light of storytelling.
‘Exquisitely beautiful. This book is an act of love.’ Anna Funder, author of All That I Am and Stasiland
‘Chloe Hooper has a formidable talent to take complex stories and ideas and truths, and to distil them into a language of direct and powerful beauty. This is a story of grief and of patience, of hope and acceptance. It is also a reminder of the solace that books give us, and of how the imaginary worlds we dive into as children remain with is for all our lives, of how they guide us into adulthood and maturity. There is a quiet courage and strength in this book. It is both gentle and uncompromising, a love letter to family and to literature that is bracingly unsentimental. I was profoundly moved, and profoundly grateful.’ Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap and Damascus
‘Bedtime Story is not just a striking voyage of discovery, but a beautifully produced object. The text is illustrated by Anna Walker, whose delicately dark brushwork complements the text: trees materialise in the margins, leading the way; birds race across the page; a black thunderstorm breaks out between chapters. It’s a perfect reminder that fairytales, grounded in reality, are as dark as life itself.’ Observer