The Good Mayor by Andrew NicollThe Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll

The Good Mayor

byAndrew Nicoll

Paperback | May 12, 2009

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This magical debut novel is a love story. It is also a story of loss, magic, friendship, wonderful food, a brass band, an Italian witch, a large lawyer, an occasional dog and a car chase at a walking pace. Set in the little town of Dot in a forgotten part of the Baltic, it tells the life of Tibo Krovic, the good and honest mayor of Dot, and his love for his secretary, the beautiful, lonely — and married — Mrs. Agathe Stopak. In the quiet, respectable town there is nothing that Tibo can do about his love for Mrs. Stopak. Then one day, when she accidentally drops her lunch into a fountain, everything changes — and their lives will never be the same. Read The Good Mayor and fall in love again.
After a brief stint as a lumberjack, Andrew Nicoll has spent his working life as a journalist. He is married with three children.
Title:The Good MayorFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 7.8 × 5.3 × 1 inPublished:May 12, 2009Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307397971

ISBN - 13:9780307397973

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Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not For Me A funny book about love (really only love nothing else) written by a former lumberjack. Narrated by a bearded and mole-covered female saint named Walpurnia. About a Mayor of a city named Dot, next to another city named Dash, and the river Ampersand. I had great expectations - really i did. The first hundred pages were tough. The next hundred pages were brutal. Yes I know love and yes I understand the many subtleties. But man oh man enough already. Every single simple aspect of indecision, over-analysis, insecurity are documented in the first 200 pages. Funny; at times. Well written; yes (but the language is concise the topic is overdone). For me it was too much, and too over the top. Around page 200 the story got much better for about 50 pages and then unfortunately, one of the main characters turned into a dog and he lost me again. Not a fairy tale and not a parable but then what? Not terrible but not my favorite.
Date published: 2009-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tender, funny, magical.... The Good Mayor is Scottish author Andrew Nicoll's debut novel and is newly released. Nicoll is a former lumberjack turned newspaper journalist who wrote The Good Mayor on his commute back and forth to work. It's an absolutely quirky, offbeat, enchanting, magical love story. This tale is narrated by St. Walpurnia, a bearded nun, who has watched over the small town of Dot, in a forgotten corner of the Baltic, for many, many years. Tibo Krovic is the mayor of Dot. He is known as Good Mayor Krovic as he always says and does the right thing. The good mayor has harboured a secret for many years. He is in love with his lonely, married secretary - Mrs. Agathe Stopak. But he worships from afar, or at least peeking under the crack in his office door, afraid to let her know of his feelings. One day fate, or St. Walpurnia, steps in and it seems like the good mayor and Mrs. Stopak may have a chance at true love. But the path of love is almost always crooked.... Now it sounds like a mushy love story but it's anything but. We have Strega Mamma Cesare (an Italian witch) who sees and knows much more about Dot and its' inhabitants than anyone realizes. " Small and brown, Mamma Cesare waddled in front of them like a magic toadstool leading two lost children through a fairy story." And that is the feel of The Good Mayor - a fairy tale for adults. Anyone who loved the film The Princess Bride will be enchanted by this story. There is a circus troupe that only some can hear and see, but they seem to appear at the most opportune moments. And an enigmatic, very overweight lawyer who seems to also know a bit more than he should. "...nothing in Dot is ever just quite what it seems. Nothing." The story itself is charming but it is Nicoll's language and telling of the story that make it so wonderful. The thoughts, the feelings, the descriptions -all of it captured and held me until I reluctantly turned the last page. As St. Walpurnia says "Anyway, this story is much more about the telling than the things that happen in it..." Tender, funny, charming and beguiling - this one will stay with you and make you wish for a little bit of magic in your life...
Date published: 2009-06-08

Read from the Book

In the year Blank, when A-K was governor of the province of R, Good Tibo Krovic had been mayor of the town of Dot for almost twenty years.These days, not many people visit Dot. Not many people have a reason to sail so far north into the Baltic, particularly not into the shallow seas at the mouth of the River Ampersand. There are so many little islands offshore, some of them appearing only at low tide, some of them, from time to time, coalescing with their neighbours with the capriciousness of an Italian government, that the cartographers of four nations long ago abandoned any attempt to map the place. Catherine the Great sent a team of surveyors who commandeered the house of the harbour master of Dot and lived there seven years, mapping and remapping and mapping again before they finally left in disgust.‘Ce n’est pas une mer, c’est un potage,’ the Chief Surveyor memorably remarked although nobody in Dot understood him. Unlike the Russian nobility, the people of Dot did not express themselves in French. Neither did they speak Russian. For, despite the claims of the Empress Catherine, the people of Dot did not count themselves as Russian. Not at that time. At that time, the men of Dot — if anyone had cared to ask them — might have spoken of themselves as Finns or Swedes. Perhaps, at some other time, they might have nodded to far-off Denmark or even Prussia. Some few might have called themselves Poles or Letts but, for the most part, they would have stood proudly as men of Dot.Count Gromyko shook the mud of the place from his feet and sailed home for St Petersburg where he confidently expected a new position as Her Imperial Majesty’s chief horse wincher. But, that very night, his ship struck an uncharted island which had impolitely emerged from the seas around Dot and he sank like a stone, taking with him seven years’ worth of maps.The admirals of the Empress Catherine were left with a blank space on their charts which they were far too civilised to mark ‘Here be Dragyns’ so, instead, they wrote, ‘Shallow waters and foul grounds, dangerous to navigation.’ and left it at that. And, in later years, as the borders of many different countries shifted around Dot, like the unreliable banks of the River Ampersand, it suited their governments to say no more about it.But the men of Dot needed no maps to navigate the islands which protect their little harbour. They found their way through the archipelago by smell. They guided themselves by the colour of the sea or the patterns of the waves or the rhythm of the current or the position of this eddy or that piece of slack water or the shape of the breakers where two tides crossed. The men of Dot sailed confidently out of their harbour seven centuries ago, taking skins and dried fish to the ports of the Hanseatic League and they sailed home yesterday with cigarettes and vodka that nobody else need know anything about.And, like them, when Good Tibo Krovic went to work in the mayor’s office each morning, he navigated confidently. He picked up his paper from the front door, walked down the blue-tiled path, through his neat little garden to the collapsing ghost of a gate where a brass bell hung from the branches of a birch tree with a chain ending in a broken wooden handle, green with algae.On the street, Tibo turned left. He bought a bag of mints from the kiosk on the corner, crossed the road and waited by the tram stop. On sunny days, Mayor Krovic read the paper while he waited for the tram. On rainy days, he stood under his umbrella and sheltered his paper inside his coat. On rainy days, he never got to read his paper and, even on sunny days, likely as not, somebody would come up to him at the tram stop and say, ‘Ah, Mayor Krovic, I was wondering if I could ask you about . . .’ and Good Tibo Krovic would fold his paper and listen and advise. Good Mayor Krovic.City Square is exactly nine stops from Mayor Krovic’s house. He would get off after seven and walk the rest of the way. Halfway there, he would stop at The Golden Angel and order a strong Viennese coffee with plenty of figs, drink it, suck one mint and leave the rest of the bag on the table. Then there was only a short walk down Castle Street, across White Bridge, through the square and into the Town Hall.Tibo Krovic enjoyed being mayor. He liked it when the young people came to him to be married. He liked visiting the schools of Dot and asking the children to help design the civic Christmas cards. He liked the people. He liked to sort out their little problems and their silly disputes. He enjoyed greeting distinguished visitors to the town.He enjoyed walking into the council chamber behind the major-domo carrying the great silver mace with its image of St Walpurnia — St Walpurnia, the bearded virgin martyr, whose heart-wrung pleas to Heaven for the gift of ugliness as a bolster to her chastity were answered with a miraculous generosity. St Walpurnia who was twice blessed by God — first with a beard of monstrous luxuriance and then with a cataclysm of warts which covered her whole body and which she exposed to the men of Dot almost daily in a tireless effort to turn them away from sin. St Walpurnia who, when the rampaging Huns threatened Dot, offered herself to them on condition they spared the women folk of the city. St Walpurnia who, as the monks recorded, ran towards the Hun camp, calling out to them, ‘Take me! Take me!’ and those beastly Huns, who thought nothing of slaking themselves in the hairy flesh of their camp animals, treated poor, saintly Walpurnia as a mere plaything. When she died, hours later, crying out, ‘Oh God, oh God, oh Jesus!’, the legend said there wasn’t a mark on her entire, warty body. God granted her a heart attack as another mark of his extreme favour and, when her corpse was recovered, a smile of bliss shone out from beneath her velvety moustache as a sign that she had already entered into the delights of Paradise. Or so my legend says.In the year Blank, when A-K was governor of the province of R and Good Tibo Krovic had been mayor of the town of Dot for almost twenty years, I had been here twelve hundred years longer, watching.I am still here, on the very top of the topmost pinnacle of the cathedral named in my honour but also, in some way that I cannot explain, I am standing on a ledge set into that carved pillar which supports the pulpit far, far below. And I am standing on the shield above the door of the Town Hall and painted on the side of every tram and hanging on the wall of the mayor’s office and printed on the front of every jotter that lands on every desk in every classroom in every school in Dot. I am spread-eagled on the bow of that filthy little ferry which arrives, intermittently, from Dash, salt crusted in my ridiculous beard, a woven hemp bumper slung around me like a horse collar.I am carried on coloured cards in the purses of the women of Dot, blinking at the light as they pass from shop to shop, snoozing in the copper-chinking dark, nestled in kiss curls and baby teeth and souvenir ticket stubs. I hang over beds — beds raucous with wild love, beds chill with indifference, beds where children sleep plump and innocent, beds where the dying lie racked and as thin as string. And I lie here, at the very heart of the cathedral, bare bones wrapped in dry gristle and ancient, crumbled silks inside a golden pavilion, studded with jewels, gleaming with enamels, gaudy with ornament, where kings and princes have knelt to weep repentance, where their barren queens have sobbed out pleadings, where the people of Dot stop to pass the time of day with me. I cannot explain this. I cannot explain because I do not understand how I can be in all of these places all the time.It seems to me that, if it is what I wish, I can be wholly and completely in any one of these places. Everything that is Walpurnia can be here, on top of my cathedral, looking down at the city and far out to sea, or here in the golden box or there on the front of that particular school jotter. And yet it seems to me that, if it is what I wish, I can be in all of those places at one time, undiluted, not spread one atom thinner, everywhere, watching. I watch. I watch the shopkeepers of Dot and the policemen and the tramps, the happy people and the sad people, the cats and the birds and the yellow dogs and Good Mayor Krovic.I watched him as he walked up the green marble staircase to his office. He liked those stairs. He liked his office. He liked the dark wooden panelling inside and the big shuttered windows that looked across the fountains in the square, back up Castle Street to the white mass of my cathedral under its copper-coloured onion dome where, every year, he led the council for its annual blessing. He liked his comfortable leather chair. He liked the coat of arms on the wall with its image of a smiling, bearded nun. Most of all, he liked his secretary, Mrs Stopak.Agathe Stopak was everything that St Walpurnia was not. Yes, she was blessed with long, dark, lustrous hair — but not on her chin. And her skin! White, shining, creamy, utterly wartless. Mrs Stopak, although she showed me the dutiful devotion proper for any woman of Dot, was not one to take that sort of thing to extremes. In summer, she sat perched on her chair by the window like a buxom crane, dressed in filmy floral prints that sagged on every curve of her body in the heat and moved with every gasp of air that came in at the window.All winter long, Mrs Stopak came to work in galoshes and, seated at her desk, she slipped them off and took from her bag a pair of high-heeled, peep-toe sandals. Inside his office, poor, good, love-struck Mayor Krovic would listen for the clump of her galoshes when Mrs Stopak came in to work and rush to fling himself on the carpet, squinting through the crack beneath the door for a glimpse of her plump little toes as they wormed into her shoes.And then poor, good, love-struck Tibo would sigh and stand up and brush the carpet fluff from his suit and go and sit down at his desk with his head in his hands and listen to Agathe Stopak, clip-clip-clipping across the tiled floor of the office next door, putting something in a filing cabinet or brewing coffee or simply being soft and scented and beautiful and on the other side of the door.From time to time during the working day, like anyone else, Mrs Stopak would leave her desk to attend to ordinary human needs and invariably she returned with her make-up restored to a mask of perfection, trailing clouds of limes and lemons and bougainvillea and vanilla and exotic scents that Good Tibo could not even name. He imagined the places they had come from — Pacific islands wafted with spices and tinkling with temple bells where tiny waves sighed on pink coral sands. He imagined the places they were now — little puffs of scent squirted on to the soft plump mounds behind Mrs Stopak’s knees, on her blue wrists and dewing her milky cleavage. ‘Oh God,’ Mayor Krovic muttered to himself, ‘when you snatched my atoms from stardust, why did you make me a man when you could have made me into little drops of perfume and let me die there?’

Editorial Reviews

“An extraordinary achievement. . . . A seriously original and profoundly creative piece of literature.”
The Scotsman

“One of the best books I have ever read — it has a humour and lightness of touch that hooked me from the first page to the last.”
The Daily Telegraph

“Clearly the handiwork of a master storyteller.”
The Financial Times