Review: Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens

Hachette Australia

Little Brown Books

ISBN: 9781472154651

 

Description:

A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

 

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

 

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

 

 

My View:

This narrative is gently, softly spoken, yet powerful, immersive and surprising. Themes of Domestic Violence, resilience, prejudice, love and murder float softly across the page bumping chaotically against one another, leaving no marks.

 

This is the debut fictional novel for Delia Owens who has previously co-authored three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as wildlife scientist in Africa. I bet she can draw too – she writes like an artist – I imagine her work in watercolours and pastels – gentle, floaty, soft and vibrant.

 

Despite the violence that punctures this novel I am overwhelmed by the protagonist’s sense of curiosity and resilience. Her studies of nature are sublime…I can imagine the books she wrote. I can picture the illustrations. I feel her loneliness, I applaud her ingenuity and strong survival instincts.

 

This book is so many things – it is a haunting portrayal of domestic violence, guilt, prejudice and entitlement yet is equally a study in resilience, of nature, of environment and enduring love. And it has a wonderfully surprising ending – what a fantastic twist! For reasons I cannot identify it left me feeling light, weightless… happy…and surprised. I look forward to reading more from this author.

 

Review: The Cottage at Rosella Cove – Sandie Docker

The Cottage at Rosella Cove

Sandie Docker

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143789215

 

Description:

Why had the house stayed empty so long? Why had it never been sold?

 

LOST

Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the

first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.

 

FOUND

Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.

 

FORGOTTEN

Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove. He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.

 

Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures.

 

 

My View:

Isn’t it great when you discover a new author to add to your “authors you must read” list?

 

Sandie Docker writes with a subtleness that is poignant and encompasses many contemporary social issues without shouting her message loudly in your face.  There are many threads to this narrative – domestic violence – DV does not always include physical violence; it can be a deliberate isolation from friends and family, a slow erosion of self and self-confidence, financial dependence/control…the psychological assault is oh so manipulative and dire…Docker weaves this thread into the narrative with a deceptive charm – blink and you will miss the signs – just as the victim does. But this is more than a narrative of DV, it is a charming story of friendships, new and old, about redemption, rebuilding  –  I liked the analogy for rebuilding life/rebuilding cottage – by allowing friendship in and opening  up your heart to possibilities and hope.

 

I loved the device – the reading of old letters – to fill in gaps, to tell a personal history and a world history, to add depth to characters, and to provide optimism and resolution.

 

This is a deceptively simple narrative that encompasses so much life. A great read.

 

 

 

Post Script: Out of Bounds – Val McDermid

A slow burn that is big on police procedural and immensely satisfying to read!

out-of-bounds

Out of Bounds

Inspector Karen Pirie #4

Val McDermid

Hachette Australia

Little, Brown

ISBN: 9781408706923

 

Description:

Internationally bestselling author Val McDermid is one of our finest crime writers, whose gripping, impeccably plotted novels have garnered millions of readers worldwide. In her latest, Out of Bounds, she delivers a riveting cold case novel featuring detective Karen Pirie.

 

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test reveals a connection to an unsolved murder from twenty-two years before. Finding the answer to the cold case should be straightforward. But it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

 

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another mystery that she has no business investigating, a mystery that has its roots in a terrorist bombing two decades ago. And again, she finds that nothing is as it seems.

 

An enthralling, twisty read, Out of Bounds reaffirms Val McDermid’s place as one of the most dependable professionals in the mystery and thriller business.

 

 

My View:

A slow burn that is big on police procedural and immensely satisfying to read!

 

Another great read from this author – and another series to add to you list of must reads. Fantastic character driven police procedural – twists, turns and surprises and as a bonus McDermid subtly weaves in some contemporary social issues. McDermid looks at the plights of political refugees and discrimination in the UK and deftly crafts minor storylines that offer a positive positions/reflections of life to contrast populist ethnocentric views. Bravo!

 

 

And as if that isn’t enough to draw you in – it is an educational read as well – I learnt so much about the different brands and flavours of gin available in the UK (which prompted me to check out our local liquor store, sadly there was only 4 types of gin on the shelves of which I selected one to bring home with me) the lack of choice was very disappointing after being tantalised with the many many types Karen and Jimmy sampled and judged during their Monday night soirees.

 

And I learned a new the expression – the Scottish word – numpty, which for the unenlightened means; a stupid or ineffectual person. J And by coincidence – I was in the hairdressers to day and heard that word used in conversation, remember I am in Australia and this is not a word that is ordinarily a part of colloquial language but my hairdresser was from the UK. Glad I understood what she me and and that she wasn’t talking about me J

 

Out of Bounds is a well written, engaging, educational,  complex, character driven and socially relevant police procedural that you will find immensely satisfying to read (as a bonus there are glimpses of the authors sense of humour in her writing which made me smile as I read) I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

 

 

 

Post Script: Inside These Walls – Rebecca Coleman

This is a beautiful, poignant and haunting story.

Inside These Walls

Rebecca Coleman

Harlequin

Harlequin MIRA

ISBN: 9781459239074

 

Description:

There is only one day, and I live it over and over…

For Clara Mattingly, routine is the key to enduring the endless weeks, months and years of a life sentence in a women’s prison. The convicted murderer never looks back at who she once was—a shy young art student whose life took a sudden tragic turn. And she allows herself no hope for a better future. Survival is a day-to-day game. But when a surprise visitor shows up one day, Clara finds that in an instant everything has changed. Now she must account for the life she has led—its beauty as well as its brutality—and face the truth behind the terrible secret she has kept to herself all these years.

Critically acclaimed author Rebecca Coleman brings you the haunting story of a woman’s deepest passions, darkest regrets and her unforgettable and emotional journey toward redemption.

My View:

I loved every minute of this narrative; the writing is clear, clean, understated and elegant. The protagonist’s voice has a particular sense of calm and peace that I found mesmerising and very, very moving. The story itself is powerful and very sad and very relevant to the social issues and Royal Commissions that countries like Australia are trying to deal with today; this one story speaks so well for the victims of so many kinds of abuse and the voices of the characters in this book ring true and clear, they do not whine, or brashly shout out pleas for attention but quietly inform and allow the reader to peek into the lives of others less fortunate to witness the injustices themselves.

There are so many levels to this very quietly spoken, moving narrative. There were times when I held back a silent tear for the inhumane treatment served up to so many caught up in the penal system – the point of a custodial sentence is to detain not to dehumanise isn’t it?  All involved in this system are affected, not just those who are incarcerated. I think this point is made very clearly.

Clara’s story is moving. Clara’s story is engaging, insightful and so well written – and that is the best part – the writing is so restful despite the subject matter being discussed. I loved Clara’s peaceful, calm, serene voice. This is a great read. Don’t be put off by the gentleness of the words, this is a great story, this is a powerful story of redemption and hopes told by voice that does not preach to or admonish the audience.