REVIEWED BY JANET BAYLISS
Delia Owens (Little, Brown: 2018)
This has been a very much fêted book, ever since its publication in 2018. I understand that at times there have been queues around the block at places in the United States for a signed copy. On Thursday 28th October , however, at the Framlingham Book Group meeting, there was a slightly iconoclastic approach to the book, led by someone who has lived in the geographic area of its setting: the marshes off the North Carolina coast. As a group we had really enjoyed the novel but found it difficult to suspend our disbelief at times. The book is infused with passages of writing about the nature of the area, but the question was asked: where are the reptiles? (Actually, I think a turtle was mentioned at some point in the narrative but only in passing.) Also, how did Kya (the main character) manage to grow into womanhood without encountering any of the numerous parasites and diseases that are available in the marsh? The North Carolina coast is subject to regular hurricanes, but apparently not in this section of it: Kya’s shack and reading cabin live a charmed life.
Having said this, I was very involved in the book and did not see the twist at the end coming, but also did not find the dénouement nearly as satisfying as some other readers did. For me it invalidated much of what had gone before, while not greatly detracting from the novel overall. I must admit however, to enjoying the book group meeting almost more than the book; at the best meetings members are not afraid to take a sideways look at a work and comment on aspects of it in an unexpected manner. It keeps me pleasurably off-balance when a book is discussed.