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THE MAGIC TOYSHOP; Telegraph columnists' favourite reads.

Byline: by ANGELA CARTER

MY favourite book is one I read by default.

When I was 18, I was a study-loving, goodie two shoes while my best friend was a sports fiend who couldn't be bothered with school work.

One day, when I was waiting for her to finish netball practice, I picked up her A-level English text - The Magic Toyshop - and started reading it.

What an amazing book. Netball practice finished and I was away with the book fairies and had to be dragged into the car to go home, still reading.

The story is set in 1950s England where three orphans are sent to live with their strange uncle who runs a toyshop. The eldest is 16-year-old Melanie who aches for a life of romance and instead gets a life of mysterious hairs left in the soap, threadbare cardigans and a frightening uncle who insists on making them star in bizarre scenes with sinister, lifesize puppets that he creates. She finds comfort in her uncle's silent wife and her two Irish brothers, falls in love with one and plots to get rid of her uncle and free them all from his tyranny.

It's weird, creepy, makes my heart ache and I would read it over and over again.

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Helen Legh (right)
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 28, 2007
Words:215
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