‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep‘ by Joanna Cannon… We’re reading that for our next meeting on the first Sunday in May; it seemed such an interesting book that I plunged in and I’ve read it already! I say ‘seemed’ which sounds a bit half-hearted – it is a good book with an intriguing story told from several different points of view, but mostly by a precocious ten-year old girl called Grace. The book is set during the ferociously hot summer of 1976 when Britain was seared by heat and lack of rain. However, the roots of the narrative go back nine years to events which happened in the small cul-de-sac where Grace and the other characters live.
It is an intriguing story – and I do, without reservation, recommend it… however… as usual, it’s me that has the problem, not the book… it is written in a certain way and in a certain style, which at first I thought was clever and amusing, but I began to grow tired of it, and in the end it became a barrier to my enjoyment. For example, in the first few pages, this delightful sentence: ‘People drove their cars with the windows down, and fragments of music littered the streets’… I really liked that, and there were more similar sentences and phrases and descriptions, but in the end it was like eating too much of something too sweet… and I became really irritated… so by the time I was near the end and read ‘A parade of people joined together by tedium and curiosity, passing each other’s misery around between themselves like a parcel’ … I just heaved a sigh. It seemed to me there was too much clever writing, and it distanced me from being fully engaged
It’s a great mystery story, well-paced and with little hints and nudges towards the answer to what happened and who did what to whom, and the characters are very believable. I’m looking forward to meeting my reading group friends to see what they thought of it, and one other little niggle… did any of them find the ending flat and really disappointing (and not very clear) ?
Before I buy another book by Joanna Cannon, I’ll really look through it because if it’s written in the same style – ‘quirky’ was mentioned on the back cover, then I will probably give it a miss!