Book Review: The Trouble with Goats & Sheep by Joanna Cannon

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep What’s it about?

England, 1976.

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…

 

 

My thoughts

I’d had the draft of this review in my posts for at least 3 weeks since finishing the book and just couldn’t seem to get any coherent words into it that expressed how I really felt and would tell you anything different than you may have read elsewhere.  Ultimately all I want to say is I thoroughly recommend it, go read it!  …but that would make for a very short post.

After meeting Joanna at Waterstone’s in Birmingham last month I was really looking forward to reading this book. I’d seen nothing but positive reviews and I did feel like the last person to read it!  I’m pleased to report I wasn’t disappointed and overall I felt opening this book was like opening the door to my childhood.

From the very first sentence it feels like the author has put her life, soul and breath into every sentence and it didn’t matter so much that I had a slight issue with Grace and her language and how I felt at some points she was too old for her age and at other points quite naïve because everything else about the book made that pale into insignificance.

I loved the mix of secondary characters on the street, their well-hidden issues and how they all played a part without feeling like they were padding; particularly Dorothy Forbes and her lists. Although I liked her for her lists, it’s really sad why she actually needs the lists!

“The key to a tidy house is anticipation.  And lists.  Lots of lists”
“Lists?” I said.
“Oh yes, lists.  That way nothing ever gets forgotten.”

The idea that Grace and Tilly couldn’t penetrate the neighbour’s conversations and go under the radar to investigate the mystery without raising suspicion was great.  This is something I could imagine doing with the other kids on the street where I grew up. We were more likely to get a clip round the ear hole though! 🙂

Ultimately a book about of belonging; understanding community and relationships mostly from a child’s perspective,  it’s very warm with a kind of fable, moral tale at its heart.

There were so many things that I recall from my childhood which makes this book perfect for those that grew up in the 70s and 80s because you’ll be nodding your head in agreement….yep I did that, had that, ate that!  Angel Delight, Custard Creams, Soda Stream, Woolworth’s, net curtains, and OMG circling stuff you wanted to buy from the catalogue for so many pence a week….a brilliant and accurate take on 70s suburban life that I’m sure will resonate with many more people; those of you who’ve yet to discover Grace and Tilly during one long hot summer are in for a treat!

p.s Joanna, can you write a novel set in the 80s? 😉

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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10 Comments

  1. April 16, 2016 / 9:27 am

    Great review. Wouldn’t have thought picking this one up as the title doesn’t really call out to me but now I just might. If you want to read a book drenched in ’80s style you should read Holding Out For A Hero. It’s chick lit but really good and filled with references to music, movies, clothes, everything.

  2. April 16, 2016 / 10:44 am

    Absolutely. The soda stream made me chuckle. My parents finally gave in and got us a 2nd hand one after we pestered and pestered them about it. And then, of course, it never got as much use as we thought!
    We used to love going to Woolworths. Mainly, apart from when they had pick and mix, to look at the stationery and music (in the days of cassettes).
    And the front room with the plastic still on the settee and armchair. I have memories of visiting relatives who did this!! 🙂

    • April 16, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      We hardly ever used our soda stream as if I remember correctly the cordials and gas were really expensive…unless that’s what my parents just used to tell us!! 😉
      OMG I used to buy 7″ and albums in Woolworths and later cassettes. I used to work a Saturday in a local café and I’d be straight in there after work spending my money buying a record.

  3. April 16, 2016 / 11:54 am

    Great review! I think I’m going to have to buy the kindle version of this so that I can read it soon. I love my hardback copy but it’s too heavy for me to hold at the moment. Just reading your review brought back so many memories of my childhood so I can’t wait any longer to read the book! 🙂

  4. April 16, 2016 / 4:22 pm

    How fab that you met Joanna Cannon (she was in Salisbury but I found out the evening it had just ended).

    Lots of nostalgia then Lindsay. Have you read Isabel Ashdown’s Hurry Up & Wait?

    Thanks for linking #TalkoftheTown

    • April 18, 2016 / 7:38 pm

      I haven’t read Hurry Up & Wait Shaz, I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

  5. April 20, 2016 / 2:39 am

    I have yet to meet an author of a favorite book. That’s on my wishlist for 2016 🙂 Great review! I haven’t heard of this book but I may need to check this one out. Thanks for sharing!

    • April 20, 2016 / 4:16 pm

      It’s great fun but somewhat intimidating even though they’re just people!! 😉

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