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HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
This price was set by the publisher.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep: The Sunday Times Bestseller Kindle Edition
|Length: 465 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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About the Author
Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog. The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is her first novel.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
‘A splendid debut …Forensic period detail and pithy exchanges between characters give the novel the feel of a Seventies sitcom …a wonderful achievement’ DAILY MAIL
‘Cannon specialises, beautifully, in making concrete the abstract … a superior debut’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Vibrant and funny…imagine Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, set in 1970s English suburbia’ GUARDIAN
‘Successfully capturing the claustrophobia of suburban life… Cannon paints a sympathetic and nuanced portrait of society’s misfits’ THE INDEPENDENT
‘Beautifully written’ DAILY EXPRESS
‘Sweet, nostalgic and funny’ THE SUN ON SUNDAY
‘Wry, acutely observant and brilliantly claustrophobic’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘Fresh and vivid, this intriguing debut is a perceptive coming-of-age tale’ SUNDAY EXPRESS
‘A unique and unforgettable debut’ WALL STREET JOURNAL
‘A very special book that makes us think about ourselves and others more deeply … a terrific pageturner’ NATHAN FILER
‘An utter delight. Perceptive, funny, dark, moving. And so beautifully written. I loved it’ SARAH WINMAN
‘A quirky, moving and beautifully written tale of suburban life in 1970s Britain, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is a delight from start to finish’ PAULA HAWKINS--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B011HCXZPQ
- Publisher : The Borough Press (28 January 2016)
- Language : English
- File size : 911 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 465 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0008132178
- Best Sellers Rank: 100,222 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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A wonderful debut novel.
Inventive descriptions abound in this apparently simple story of a lady who goes missing in a small English village neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the publisher has requested no quotations from a review copy, so I’ve got holes in my tongue from biting it!
This is told partly by 10-year old Gracie, in the present, and partly by the neighbours in the present and in flashbacks. I like Gracie’s parts the best. It does jump back and forth between times and points of view, and a few names are similar (Sheila and Sylvie), which didn’t help me remember who was who.
Gracie and Tilly, her delicate best friend, decide that God would be able to save the missing lady, Margaret Creasy, so they decide to search everyone’s house for God (because He's everywhere), including the scary man whom everyone accuses of being a baby-snatcher (Gracie was that baby, found safe) and probable kiddy-fiddler. Tilly reckons Walter’s not a murderer because murderers are fatter and have mustaches. I did enjoy these girls!
Gracie and Tilly learn in church that the shepherd separates the goats and sheep because, they presume, he doesn’t like the goats because the sheep feed and clothe him and the goats don’t, so the goats will go to eternal punishment. And God does that with people, so Walter Bishop seems destined to be a goat. What’s more, his house burned down with his mother in it, and that must mean something, too.
The word “scapegoat” is never used, but Walter is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the village. His house is a constant target for kids shouting obscenities and throwing rocks, and he is the subject of gossip and even informal town meetings. They now conclude that Walter has murdered Margaret – all they need to do is prove it.
Margaret’s husband says he misses that she “disentangled” his worries, and that now silence happens everywhere. Others miss her for various reasons, some because she may know some secrets.
There are some townsfolk who are obviously frightened to tell what we think they know. Some of the men are scary, as one women remembers “her own father, and all the other men who came wrapped in harmless packaging.” [Sorry, Scribners, and for the next one too.]
I appreciate descriptive passages, but I was annoyed to have quite so many complicated versions of words filling mouths or spilling out or rolling down the road or whatever. I almost started to keep count.
But then I would read this and think, perfect!
“Everything is in chaos. The avenue looks as if someone has shaken all the contents and tipped them back out onto the street."
Cannon shows a lot of talent here, and I’d have enjoyed it even more if Gracie had told the story and if Tilly had been a bigger character, rather than just a foil for Gracie. I love the way the author shows us how their minds work.
Thanks to NetGalley and Scribners for a copy for review. (I couldn't resist a couple of small quotes.)
The Trouble With Goats And Sheep is the first novel by British author, Joanna Cannon. During the heatwave of 1976, Margaret Creasy disappears from Number 8 The Avenue. “Mrs Creasy was still missing on Tuesday, and she was even more missing on Wednesday, when she’d arranged to sell raffle tickets for the British Legion. By Thursday, her name was being passed over garden fences and threaded along the queue at shop counters”
Ten-year-old best friends, Grace Bennett and Tilly Albert are as curious as the rest of the street. Did she leave of her own accord, and if so, why? Perhaps she was murdered! Words from the Vicar after church on Sunday (“If God exists in a community, no one will be lost”) set Grace and Tilly on a mission: if they find God (who is EVERYWHERE), perhaps Mrs Creasy (who was nice and was teaching Tilly to knit) will be safe.
As Grace and Tilly search for God, they notice that people in the street are behaving quite strangely. Perhaps it is the heat: “July had found its fiercest day yet. The sky was ironed into an acid blue, and even the clouds had fallen from the edges, leaving a faultless page of summer above our heads”. They are warned to stay away from Number 11 (Walter Bishop’s house) but no one will say exactly why: “It was better for children if they didn’t know all the facts, she’d said, and the words always left her mouth in italics”.
They are fairly sure that Mr Creasy didn’t kill her: he isn’t fat enough and doesn’t have a moustache. Anyway, he’s much too upset: “He missed her reassurance. The way she stole his disquiet and diluted it, and how her unconcern would pull him through their day. She never dismissed his worries, she just disentangled them, smoothing down the edges and spreading them out until they became thin and insignificant”.
Cannon uses multiple narrative strands to tell the story, which covers two months of summer during 1976. Each chapter is headed with a date and an address in The Avenue, so that it is clear whose perspective is being shown. As well as this, Cannon intersperses throughout this, flashbacks to 1967, starting in December and receding some six weeks, tell of incidents that led up to the fire at Walter Bishop’s house. The reader gradually learns why the street is so anxious about the reason Margaret Creasy has left and what will happen when (or if) she returns.
Using young Grace as a narrator is a stroke of genius: her innocence, her youthful perspective and her candour, as well as often being a source of humour, lead to some remarks of profound wisdom and ingenuous prescience. Cannon’s characters are familiar: people we meet every day in the corner shop or on the bus. Each has flaws and secrets: one might say that, except for Tilly Albert, none of the characters is entirely blameless; at one point, even Grace’s behaviour is less than stellar.
The understated cover hides a novel of true brilliance. Cannon explores guilt and grief and shame, the perils of being different, the need to be accepted, and how easily a community will ostracise and persecute. Cannon’s prose is exquisite: it is difficult not to fill a review with quotes like “I had learned not to take any notice, because she carried worrying around with her at all times, like a spare cardigan” and “My mother looked at him and did loud staring” and “…the only sound I could hear, as I lay on the grass, was Mrs Morton’s knitting needles tutting against each other in disapproval”.
Cannon’s plot is original but wholly credible. She skilfully peppers the tale with clues, but even astute readers, those who guess the identity of the arsonist, and that of the baby snatcher well before they are revealed, have a breath-taking shock coming in the last pages. This outstanding debut novel is a moving, thought provoking and delightful read. Highly recommended!
I can’t resist a few more quotes for anyone who enjoyed those already included.
“I watched her without end, inspecting her life for the slightest vibration of change, and yet she knew none of this. My worries were noiseless; a silent obsession that the only friend I had ever made would be taken from me, just because I hadn’t concentrated enough”
“Margaret liked to mend. It made her happy to see things repaired, and the repairing made John feel safe. Now she was gone, he could imagine the threads beginning to loosen and the edges beginning to lift, and all the holes that would form for his life to fall into…Now he had become untethered, drifting between the layers of his own thinking…”
“I wondered where this sense of community was. If it was waiting in the back of Sheila Dakin’s pantry, or hidden in the loneliness of Eric Lamb’s shed. I wondered if it sat with May Roper on her crocheted settee, or scratched itself into the paintwork of Walter Bishop’s rotten windows. Perhaps it was in all of those places, but I had yet to find it”
“It was a very small ‘Oh’, but I had learned from my mother that words didn’t necessarily have to be big to make a good impression on people”
“It’s the small decisions, the ones that slip themselves into your day unnoticed, the ones that wrap their weight in insignificance. These are the decisions that bury you”
“The verge was thick with summer: stitchwort and buttercups, and towering foxgloves which blew clouds of pollen from rich, purple bells. The breeze had dropped, leaving us in a razor of heat which cut into the skin at the tops of my arms and made speaking too much of an effort. We trudged in a single line; silent pilgrims drawn towards a shrine of tea and digestives, all strapped into Sunday clothes and decorated in sweat”
Top reviews from other countries
by Joanna Cannon
‘Mrs Creasy disappeared on a Monday’ is the intriguing opening line of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon.
Ten year old Grace and her best friend, Tilly are on a mission.
They decide to spend their summer holidays, in the heat-wave of 1976, searching for God. After all, the Vicar tells them everything would be all right if people just found God. The mystery of Mrs Creasy’s disappearance shows no signs of being solved soon but the adults on The Avenue seem to have their own ideas and some of them are based on a ten year old mystery that the girls do not really understand.
I love the style of this book. It is refreshing and full of clever personification. Joanna Cannon brings not only her characters to life but the things around them and their moods too, with her delightful use of language.
‘Tilly’s mother always looked worried. I had learned not to take any notice because she carried worrying around with her like a spare cardigan.’
‘”Fine” she said.......”Don’t mind me. You do whatever you think is best.” “Fine” said my father. “We’ll go.” My mother looked disappointed. She was used to her words being escorted by a translation.’
I enjoyed this book so much that I have read it twice and have already ordered another book by the same author.
It is quite a gentle read but there is drama and pathos and subtle reminders of some of the ways in which we do not always behave at our best or realise our own prejudices and failings. A charming and thought provoking read.
A fine first novel, though I did enjoy Joanne Cannon's second novel more, that is 'Three Things About Elsie'
The secrets of various characters were concealed from the reader for so long (e.g. where is Mrs Creasey? Who took baby Grace?) that by the end I hardly care. Good job - one reason was predictable, one flimsy, and the other ... well, it was never explained.