There once was a lane, filled with well-tended lawns and well-fostered friendships, of well-appointed houses all neat and tidy and those that live within, of stories and mysteries that manifest for only fleeting moments for the few who pay attention. This is one such tale. – By Duncan Wilson
Once Upon a Lane is a tale about an ensemble of souls living as neighbors on the same street, each one with strengths and weaknesses, others hiding deep secrets behind closed doors. These parts of themselves work to create a unique and pleasant community.
Duncan Wilson describes life along this lane with vivid imagery. His characters constructed with careful detail that brings each one to life, making it easy to imagine them in the mind’s eye. The hidden world that emerges in this lane is unique, full of childhood adventures, colorful garden spaces and fantastic characters.
Young Tommy is once asked, ‘How is the Lane today?’ and he answers, ‘It’s the same as it always is, idyllic.’ It is a perfect description of life in this community.
Wilson explores the human condition with his characers, carving out relationship bonds between friends, family, lovers, pets, strangers, and other…creatures. The most charming of all these bonds are the children and their effortless bonds of friendship, easy love, whims of magical adventure and the imaginary worlds they create.
I enjoyed the adventures of the Youngest Murphy Boy the most. His heart is full of loyal love and he manages to charm everyone he meets. One would never guess he harbors any struggles born of emotional scars. His friendliness is only second to lovers/partners, Ida and Ella, this epic couple that dishes out cookies and baked goods to the neighborhood.
The lane has a blight titled the House with the Dead Lawn. Much of the story is centered on the mystery of this house that no one dares approach. There is also Mrs. Habernathy, who is the least-liked character. She is nosy, unpleasant, gruff and unfriendly. She remains the one character whose story I would have loved a much deeper exploration. I’m left infinitely curious of her inner world.
Once Upon a Lane follows an eclectic cast of characters.
They live their ordinary lives in a more than extraordinary stretch of road. Their lives woven into a tight web of familiarity that is only possible in a community of neighbors. Unseen among them is an extraordinary secret.
This secret rolls and pulses under the surface of their idyllic lives. Epitomized in the form of a house with a dead lawn, and Mrs. Habernathy, whose behavior is at one point described as, ‘…disquieting and unnerving…’ This hidden mysterious secret drives the reader through the pages to a very startling discovery about Mrs. Habernathy and her connection to the house with the dead lawn.
I would recommend this book to anyone fond of slice of life stories filled with mystery, secrets behind closed doors, and love between family, friends and lovers. Most of all, if you have imagined your community is hiding a secret, you definitely must read this book to discover what kind of secret it could be.