January #HoBBookclub: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
Published by HarperCollins
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.
And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…
I rather enjoyed the first HoBBookclub of 2017. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep has been on my Twitter feed for months, and now the paperback is available, I couldn’t resist picking it for the first read of the year.
It tells the story of Grace and Tilly during the summer heatwave of 1976. A neighbour is missing, and Grace and Tilly decide to find her. It seems simple enough – find God, and Mrs Creasy will appear again. But the as the heat rises, so do tensions, and the unpleasant history of the cul-de-sac comes to light.
This is a whodunit with added drama, really. There isn’t necessarily a murder under scrutiny (after all, Mrs Creasy is not considered dead), and actually the crime of her going missing is not actually the main part of the story. In fact, it is the dark history of the residents themselves, that is of greater interest.
The only problem is, most of the story is told through the eyes of the ten-year-olds. Half the story is missing, right up until the very end, and then it is revealed in a huge crash of words. It takes a mere handful of pages to reveal something you’ve been wondering about for ages, but it takes a whole book to make it feel worthwhile.
It’s an uplifting read for the start of a rough old year, and thoroughly deserving of its praise. The characters are well thought through, the setting accurate to the extreme, and the plot with enough twists and intrigues to keep you hooked throughout. I found myself sneaking an extra few pages here and there – on the escalators, delaying bedtime by another half an hour, over mealtimes when I’d barely notice what was on my plate.
This is perfect escapism fiction. It’s rich and meaty, thickly filled with complexities and intrigues. It’s beautifully done, with a real affection for the era, the nostalgic flair of writing that takes on the best parts of the genre and era and all those things that make this book enjoyable. It was a delight to read, and I’ve already handed on my copy in desperation for others to read it.
I’m hoping to follow up this great start to a new year of Bookclub picks with something a bit different but also something I’ve been absolutely dying to read… The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Details will be on Facebook!