Historical fiction

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

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I have conflicting feelings about this book. I requested it from my library because I heard a lot about the author’s style and the fact that the upcoming release ( which I did not get approved an ARC of) is well anticipated. From the very first chapter, I got the feel that I was reading a version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ by Mark Haddon. The  difference being that Grace is just a precocious child who understands more about herself and her surroundings than she realises, her narration only sounded familiar.

The year is 1976 and it is an exceptionally hot summer. The events are precipitated by one woman going missing from the area. She was the most friendly of the lot and has had a lot of secrets spilled to her. Her absence sends everyone into a panic wondering whether it was their secret that tipped her over the edge. The two little girls Grace and Tilly decide to solve a bigger question “Where was God? and how can He help bring Mrs Creasy back?”. They set out to talk their way into other people’s houses. We are also given additional insight into prejudices that have festered and the incident that happened over ten years ago. The writing was very clever and the character analysis of the cast that we are introduced to was worth reading.

Now to move on to why the book did not feel complete to me:

  • The ending is not rounded off, it is left open in such a way that a sequel would be justified. This is not something I am comfortable with (since there is no sign of a book to follow). Sometimes it adds to the flavour, but this time I was just disappointed.
  • The little bit of hints that we are given did not help with any form of closure. In fact,  if I have understood the actual events of long ago correctly then I am even more annoyed.
  •  Finally I did not really understand the need for a random Indian family to show up in the story. Their presence seemed superfluous.(Not because I am Indian, any non-white family moving in to the tale that late would not make sense)

Despite all these niggling bits, the narration and the small insightful discussions that Grace and Tilly have with the adults were what pushed the rating higher than I would have given it otherwise.

 

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