My absolute favourite novel of 2008 had to be The Good Mayor , a debut novel by a Scottish journalist, Andrew Nicoll. It is the sort of charming feel-good-but-not-sentimental read that is a true delight, full of characters you enjoy spending time with (even the minor ones are beautifully rendered), well written and just a little bit quirky (the omniscient sometime narrator is the patron saint of the small town the story is set in, who from the cathedral her statue is placed upon, can see far and wide). It is slightly old-fashioned, in that it has a beginning, a middle and an end, told in past tense with the feeling of post WWII, although no year is given, and the greater events of the world are not mentioned at all. At times it is quite funny, at others quite dark - and it has the best last line of any novel I can remember reading!
Andrew came into the shop today, on the way to Perth for their writers' festival. I have to say, he was as delightful as his book, with a lovely line of self-deprecation rendered in his soft Scottish accent. He can't believe his luck, travelling to Australia, speaking with readers, doing the whole publicity-whirl with good humour and grace (it must get awfully wearing - oh yes, another bookshop to visit and you can't even browse). It was when he said he expected the Fraud Squad to descend upon him - he wasn't a Writer - that I was completely charmed!
So, if you haven't read The Good Mayor yet, have a look at it. Despite Andrew's claim, he is a writer, and a fine one at that! It's just the thing to take your mind off all the doom-and-gloom around (and we have a limited number of signed copies available).