Originally published: 13 September 2018
Author: Marianne Holmes
Published by: Agora Books
Genre: Family Mystery
Page count: 275
Reading dates: 5-9 September 2018
Star Rating: 5/5
We’re all about secrets in this family.
This is a literary mystery told in two timeframes, the scorchingly hot summer of 1976 and 12 years later in 1988. In 1976, Robyn lives with her mum, stepdad and brother Kit and is enjoying the school holidays that are seemingly going on forever, hanging out with her friend and brother and swimming at the Lido. Robyn’s mum gets involved in a domestic abuse incident when a mother and son come to stay with them. After the wife goes back home and ends up in hospital, the son is taken away, and father is out for revenge.
One day, a man with a cowboy hat approaches Robyn and hands her two wooden babies. When her mum sees them, she is panicked and talks about them leaving but no one explains to Robyn why. As a reader we are easily able to understand Robyn’s frustration.
We soon discover that something terrible happened that summer…the family left the village, something appears to have happened to Robyn’s mum and Robyn was badly injured. The story is cleverly interwoven between the two timelines, the threads of the story gradually coming together until we find out what happened in the summer of 1976.
I loved this debut – every time I put it down, I couldn’t wait to get back to it! The writing is just so good – the summer of 1976 was evocative and reminded me of my own childhood and the freedom I had. The dual timelines worked well – the Robyn of 1976 who doesn’t really know what is going on (much like the reader) and the grown-up Robyn who is trying to put together what happened to help lay it to rest and uncover the truth. The mystery aspect is pitched perfectly…the story was paced impeccably, there is tension throughout. At no point did I feel the story dragged, the strands of the story came together seamlessly.
I look forward to seeing what Marianne Holmes does next! A terrific debut!
Many thanks to Agora Books for sending me a copy for the blog tour.
About the author:
Marianne Holmes was born in Cyprus to RAF parents and bounced between the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium until firmly basing herself in London – well, apart from those years in the Peak District.
A love of language led to degrees in Classics and Linguistics from the University of London but her desire to pay the mortgage steered her to a career in Marketing. After distracting herself in all sorts of ways over the years – sailing, flying, volunteering and running away to India – she is now definitely, absolutely concentrating on her writing. Well, that and making sure her children get fed, clothed and entertained. Obviously.
A Little Bird Told Me is Marianne’s first novel.