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Devil By The Sea (VMC) Paperback – 2 Nov 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New edition edition (2 Nov. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844084299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844084296
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,292,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A born story-teller (INDEPENDENT)

Nina Bawden's readers should be numbered like the sands of the sea (GUARDIAN)

Nina Bawden's great talent is to be able to take you along a perfectly ordinary street, rip the façade away and show the strange and passionate events that go on behind closed doors (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Book Description

Nina Bawden's great talent is to be able to take you along a perfectly ordinary street, rip the façade away and show the strange and passionate events that go on behind closed doors'
Daily Telegraph

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The first time the children saw the Devil, he was sitting next to them in the second row of deckchairs in the band-stand. He was biting his nails". Nina Bawden starts her novel `The Devil by the Sea' with this enticing opening and so begins this story of a killer on the loose in a small seaside town lived in by the Bray family. Hilary and Peregrine Bray are watching the children's entertainment at the band-stand when they notice they are sitting next to a very strange man with a club foot, wearing a voluminous and dirty black cloak. Hilary sees the man again when he approaches a little girl and encourages her to go off with him and, although Hilary realizes that something is not quite right, she is unsure what to do with this knowledge. When Hilary's older half-sister, Janet, comes to collect Hilary and Peregrine, she does not believe Hilary's story about the strange man whom Hilary refers to as the devil, and when Janet warns her not to tell lies, Hilary decides to keep quiet.

When a small girl from the area goes missing and is subsequently found murdered, Mr and Mrs Bray are concerned for their children, but decide to keep the news to themselves as they do not want to scare them. Therefore, when one day Hilary is on her own and the club-footed man approaches her, she is not fully aware of the potential danger of the situation. Hilary is a precocious and unusual child - but will her natural perceptiveness warn her against this strange man or will her sympathy with his situation allow her to be enticed into going off with him?

Nina Bawden has written an absorbing novel with a strong narrative drive, and the subject matter, worrying though it is, makes for a compelling read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
“The first time the children saw the Devil, he was sitting next to them in the second row of deckchairs in the bandstand. He was biting his nails.”

So begins this intruiging opening to what becomes a frightening story of children trying to deal with matters that are very much beyond their level of understanding. It’s Peregrine, Hilary’s younger brother who first ‘realises’ that the man is devil. He wears a long black overcoat and one of his feet is hobbled somehow. Peregrine imagines that he’s seen his cloven foot. But it’s Hilary who sees the man walking away holding the hand of another little girl, Poppet.

This book is set some time in the late 1950s when Hilary lives with her extended family, Mum, Dad and brother and a much older Aunt who is deaf, but very astute at reading lips. Also living with them is Janet, the daughter of Dad’s previous marriage. Janet is involved with Aubrey, something of a womaniser, who sees himself as practising the arts of seduction on Janet, with no intended consequence. When Hilary (aged, I’m guessing around 12 or 13) steals a letter that has arrived for Janet, she pushes it to the back of a kitchen drawer. The overheated atmosphere of the house is troubling. When, inevitably, Janet finds the pilfered letter she knows at once that it was Hilary who stole it. Hilary hates the attention that Peregrine receives but loves her Dad, until he sees her joining in a schoolboy attack on some gypsy children, among whom lurks the man identified as the Devil. He punishes her cruelly, smacking her on her bare behind and she is devastated by the ritual humiliation.

The characterisation is done very well, but I find it very hard to imagine the household where nobody likes anybody very much and where people are continually unkind to each other.
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