Culture Street

Books

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

On August 25, 2014

By Sophia Whitfield
What Milo Saw is a delightful story about a young boy, Milo Moon, who sees the world differently. Heartfelt and moving it focuses on the loving bond between a grandparent and grandchild.

Nine-year-old Milo Moon has retina pigmentosa, his eyesight is failing and he will eventually lose all his sight. He sees the world through a tiny pin hole, noticing aspects of life that seem unusual. He sees things others don’t, perhaps because those with good vision take the world around them for granted.

After her husband Al left to care for his baby girl with ‘The Tart’, Sandy has to grapple alone with Milo’s recent diagnosis. She has also been left to shoulder the burden of care for her mother-in-law, Mrs Moon, who lives with them.

Still reeling from his father’s absence Milo grows increasingly attached to his beloved gran. He feels his mother is responsible for his father’s affair and quickly isolates himself from Sandy latching onto his grandmother for support. His only other companion is his pet pig Hamlet, a gift from his father before he left, they go everywhere together.

One night Mrs Moon accidentally causes a fire in their small meagre home. Sandy has no choice but to look for a nursing home for Gran. Milo is devastated by yet another loss. He is suspicious of the Forget Me Not nursing home, particularly the sinister Nurse Thornhill and sets about proving that things are not always what they seem.

At the nursing home he meets the cook Tripi, a refuge from Syria who becomes an unlikely friend and fellow assistant in Milo’s scheme to expose the nursing home. Although initially Milo is suspicious of the new lodger ‘Cloud’ who has taken over Gran’s room, he soon realises his mistake. These three unlikely heroes (with the assistance of Hamlet) bond over one cause, to expose the reality behind Nurse Thornhill’s charitable exterior.

A heart warming tale about love and loss and the difference one young boy can make to a world filled with grown-ups. Buy the book here.

Meet the author: Virginia Macgregor
Virginia Macgregor was brought up in Germany, France and England by a mother who never stopped telling stories. From the moment she was old enough to hold a pen, Virginia set about writing her own, often late into the night – or behind her Maths textbook at school. After studying at Oxford, Virginia started writing regularly while working as an English Teacher and Housemistress.

What are you reading at the moment?
The Goldfinch. When I last went to see my publishers, Little, Brown, my editor told me that I'd missed Donna Tartt by a few minutes...one of my pinch-myself-I'm-a-proper-writer moments. Although her style is very different from my own, I'm learning a great deal from her beautifully crafted novel - every sentence is a work of art.

Which writer most inspires you?
That changes every few months....but Jodi Picoult is one of my favourites. I see her as a contemporary Dickens: someone who tackles the big issues of our times through intimate family stories. She writes prolifically too - a novel a year, which I'd love to do. I aspire (humbly) to be the English Picoult! And she lives in New England, my favourite place in the whole world.

If you were sent away to a desert island and were only allowed to take one book with you, which one would you take?
Is it cheating to ask for The Complete Works of Shakespeare, all bound in 'one book'? I'm not a big re-reader but I could re-read (or re-watch) Shakespeare's plays a thousand times and keep learning new things. Even my five month old daughter, Tennessee, loves to be read Shakespeare (she giggles at the onomatopoeia and alliteration and Shakespearean swear words!) Otherwise I'd take The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Though I'd insist on taking Ralph Fiennes along to read it aloud.

What would be the title of your memoirs?
Dancing In The Rain. A bit cheesy but I love the rain and I like the metaphor of making the best out of the grey clouds in our lives - it's often where the treasure is found.

Who are the two great women you are named after?
I was born Virginia Woods and was named after Virginia Wade, the first British woman to win Wimbledon and Virginia Wolf, the modernist writer. My mother loved tennis and literature. Despite starting tennis at the age of five, I never made it to Wimbledon - I'd hide behind trees with my notebook, pray for rain ask the gods to strike my tennis coach down with lightening! But my literary namesake clearly had a more potent influence - I can't remember a time when I didn't love words and stories.

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