Chaplin & Company: Starring Ms Odeline Milk (Mime & Illusionist) & Friends - Mave Fellowes This is a gorgeous, magical, sad little jewel of a book, one I took my time over, basking in the beautiful vignettes that form this tale of growing up, of lost opportunities, of sacrifices, changed plans, and growing hopes.

It is the tale of Odeline Milk, eighteen years old and moved to London to make her fortune as a mime artist, who dresses like Charlie Chaplin, writes endless lists in her notebook, lives just a little outside of reality, and is searching for her father, a circus clown who bewitched her mother eighteen years ago.

It is also the tale of the eponymous run-down houseboat she moves onto, the lives it has seen and touched, and how they softly intersect as the years go by.

It is also the tale of those who live on the waterway with her, running from bitter pasts in the hope of a better future.

The writing is nothing short of glorious: Fellowes has a distinctive turn of phrase, an almost compulsive attention to detail that makes it difficult to look away or pay attention to anything else while you're reading, so rich is her world. I can't count the number of times I almost - and actually did - miss my bus stop when reading this on the way to work or on the way home; there's a definite sense of being transported, of being brought within the book and into the heads of the various characters. This book is fragile but with a core of steel, much like its heroine, full of a sumptuous cascade of words that I wrapped myself up and lost myself within.

Chaplin and Company is sad and hopeful; some things will change, some things won't, and there's a brittle thread of loneliness and missed connections running through the novel that can make the simplest of things utterly heartbreaking. I wiped away a few tears at the end, I'll admit. But it's ultimately uplifting, as new families and friendships are formed, and trust starts to overcome prejudice, fear and ignorance. Fellowes is a genuinely stunning writer and one I would absolutely love to see more of; if her debut is this good - and it really, really is - then I can only expect even greater things in future.