Well, well, well… What a surprise, another book I’ve fallen in love with.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is Joanna Cannon’s first novel and it truly was a treat!
The story is set in 1976 and most of the story reflects a child’s vision of the world, with flashbacks to the 60s; viewed from an adult perspective. Grace and her friend Tilly are on a mission to find God because they believe by finding Him, they’ll find Mrs Creasy who has gone missing.
Mrs Creasy has left the street after finding out a secret that the majority of the adults have been hiding since the 60s. The secret is linked to the fire of Walter’s house; in which his mother perished.
Walter; at number 11, is the most hated man on the block…why? We find out as the story unravels that he was accused of taking a baby; and not just any baby, it’s a young character we follow. The innocence of Grace and Tilly allows the story to unravel again and we begin to put the puzzle pieces together. When the picture finally presents itself, it is not what’s expected.
Whenever you watch a murder mystery on TV, remember how it’s usually the most innocent of characters that surprise you? This happens with two key players in this book…I’ll stop now before I give it away!
The story captures the relaxed and slow paced atmosphere that a British summer brings about, which lulled me into a tranquil bubble allowing me to fully digest the plot.
The author perfectly captures some typical child traits including:
1) The admiration a child will have towards someone older than them and how they will try and emulate them
2) If a friend is not as strong as you physically, it doesn’t mean they aren’t wiser in some situations
This book subtly touches on belief and the importance of it. It is a reminder that believing in something brings people together. It’s not always about believing in good things either, a group can be brought together by a common belief in creating justice following a terrible event.
I’ll be looking out for Joanna’s next book and until then, I’ll be reflecting on what I think makes a book successful. Is it the way the scene is set? Is it the thought provoking messages running through the plot? Or is it how good the characters are? I believe it’s all of these but getting the balance right is crucial.
Until next time, Chloe x
P.S. I’m now reading The Amber Shadows by Lucy Ribchester; which so far, is as gripping as The Hourglass Factory!