My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I adore Frank Cottrell Boyce. Millions, to me, remains one of the great pieces of perfect children’s literature. It is the book that I would have written if I could, if it had not already been written to such perfection beforehand.
Framed is a similarly joyful thing. Dylan lives in Manod, a small town in the depths of Wales which pretty much defined the phrase ‘the middle of nowhere’. He’s the last boy in the town as well, following one family moving away, and now all he has to do to keep himself busy is maintain the customer log at the family business – the petrol garage. He and his family are struggling, and then one day some unexpected visitors come to town (and they’ve got some of the most priceless pieces of art in the country tucked up in their lorries). Framed is a story about how art touches us, how colour touches us, and the transformative power of such things.
It is, more than a little bit, very lovely. I adore how Boyce writes about family and relationships; I love how he embraces the awkward frustration and rampant love of a close-living, tight-knit family and spins this out to create a whole cast of vivid, believable characters. Boyce is so good at this, so good.
The art part of this book is a delight too. Through various circumstances (which I’ll not spoil), Dylan ends up being viewed as an art expert, primarily for his ability to wax lyrical about Raphael, Donatello, Michealango and Leonardo. These are, as the observant amongst you may realise, also the names of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and with a new film coming out, this might be a lovely book to sneak into a bookshelf right now).
I love Boyce. I love what he does. I love that he writes everything he touches with such utter, ineffable grace, love and skill. He’s a gift.