Having read Pieper’s memoir The Feel-Good Hit of the Year and his follow up book Mistakes Were Made, I picked up his first novel The Toy Maker with much curiosity. I was not disappointed.
The story is about Arkady Kulokov, his grandson, Adam and Adam’s wife Tess. Arkady is a larger than life, likeable character. We learn about his life in the horrific Nazi camps and how he came to own and run a toy company. Adam has taken over the running of the company but he seems to have little respect for it equalled only to the lack of respect he has for his wife. Tess has taken over from Arkady the company’s book keeping job along with any other tasks Adam throws her way. Luckily she still has a close relationship with Arkady. Tess is also trying to raise their young son Kade.
As each of their stories develop they all have one thing in common – survival. As they find themselves in unenviable predicaments their instincts kick in as they adapt to survive. Although at times the subject matter is difficult to read, Pieper has done a fabulous job with his first novel. Definitely recommended