Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Parting Cry

“For Fidgie, growing up in the 1930’s the long school holiday stretched blissfully ahead. With her new friend Chaz as companion for idyllic summer days by the sea, she was able to frequently to escape her edgy mother and her malicious older sister, Cly. Her father, mercifully, was away from home…

Through Fidgies’s clear eyes the events of a brief hot spell in August unfold: her family and neighbours become involved in adultery, deception, and other darker misdemeanours. The eight year old is an engaging and lively narrator; swept along in her extraordinarily compelling tale, the reader will realise that underlying Fidgies’s innocent accounts of family meals, fishing trips round the bay, tree-climbing and playing at May Queens, a very adult sub-text is developing. Its conclusion is both tragic and inevitable”

This is the first novel byAnthea Halliwell, published in 1998

I enjoyed the first half of this book – the idea of adult actions being narrated through the voice of a child was interesting.  But the view of the child was not convincingly that of an eight year old.  At times there was complete innocence but at other times her behaviour was that of a much older child.  While some children clearly had a much freer existence in the 1930’s than they do today I would have liked a clearer picture of the era – it just didn’t quite ring true.  By the time I was three parts through the book I began to wonder if it had in fact been written for a teenage, or younger, readership but the adult themes would suggest not.

It was an  idea that didn’t quite work for me but I will  be interested to see if the author has followed up with anything else.

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