My Latest Reads

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This is another quirky, readable book by a first time author. It was a birthday present from the Eldest of the Darling Daughters who hasn’t read it but thought, from the reviews, that it would be right up my street.


Which is an appropriate idiom, as it happens, because the central theme of the book is the secret life of the residents of The Avenue, a (hopefully) fictional road which will have every reader wondering just what goes on behind the curtains of all their own neighbours’ houses. Only joking!


The story is told mostly from the viewpoint of nine year old Grace who, with her best friend Tilly, seeks to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Mrs Margaret Creasy of Number 8 The Avenue, while at the same time looking for God, having been assured by the local vicar that he is “everywhere”, sorting out in Biblical terms, the sheep from the goats - hence the title of the book.


If you like neat endings, with everything explained, then this book may have you howling with frustration. The reason why Margaret Creasey disappeared is hardly credible, at least one of the secrets unveiled is a deliberate and rather horrific crime which will presumably go unpunished, and God is “revealed” in a most mysterious way. Some of the darker events recounted seem to get lost in the overall narrative, almost as if they are after thoughts rather than the events which shaped a person’s later actions. But forget all that - this is a book to suspend disbelief and just enjoy, especially young Grace’s acute and funny observations on life. The narrative flips between 1976 (with very evocative descriptions of that long, hot summer which those, like me, of a Certain Age will remember so well) and 1967 which can be a trifle confusing and the best chapters are definitely those narrated by Grace.


However it was the friendship between Grace and Tilly which captivated me most. The author perfectly captured how the relationship between two close friends is never as clear-cut as it may seem - that the confident one may be every bit as reliant on the more apparently reticent partner. It reminded me in some ways of my relationship with my own Little Sister, where, despite being the older, I was every bit as dependent on her, as she was on me. Perhaps that’s why I could recognise the essence of the girls’ friendship so well and why, for me, it was the most believable relationship of the whole story.


For everyone who likes their books quirky, different and full of larger than life characters.  

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Latest comments

21.05 | 10:09

I'm needing to find information about the usher family tree for my aunty, her great grandparent where Thomas and Phoebe Usher would I've been researching

21.05 | 10:03

Hi Karen,
I'm helping my aunt with her family tree her maiden name was usher. do you have any other information or found anything about the usher family

18.04 | 17:19

Oh that's such a good read Jaqui! It's great to see it through your eyes, and you capture it beautifully... and you will indeed look like real athletes too!

21.02 | 22:41


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