I have no idea why so many people have raved about this book. It is not the worst thing I have ever read, but I would never recommend it or buy it as a gift.
The story is about a young girl, Gwen Morgan, growing up in a dysfunctional family in a small village, ruled by the gossips at the Chapel, in Wales in the 50s.
When the father of the children she babysits for goes missing, Gwen decides to play detective and look for him. Oh, and she also believes she can fly in her sleep.
I have a number of problems with this book. Some of the writing is far too overwrought and just plain twee, although sometimes it works OK.
Gwen, as narrator, has an inconsistent voice, which makes her wholly unbelievable. She is supposed to be very bright and imaginative, but also very naive - think the Curious Incident of the Dog that Barked in the Night-time, of Marion and Geoff, where the narrator reports things that s/he does not understand, but you, the reader do. I don't have a problem with that if worked effectively, as in the other two examples. It makes you feel smug and clever, and creates a dramatic tension. But Gwen is capable of some very charp analytical thinking, on occasion, so this innocence does not ring true.
For a child that is supposed to be going through puberty, however ill-informed, she shows a remarkable lack of interest in her body or development.
And for a child who is supposed to be able to fly over the landscape, there is little sense of place, as compared to say Resistance, by Owen Sheers. . The ending feels pat and too cosy for words. The actions of the wife of the missing man do not feel coherently plotted.
On the plus side, the sense of claustrophobia in a small community is well done. Mental health issues are well explored, but perhaps sometimes with too modern an eye.
Its OK, for a first novel. I have a feeling that Strachan might develop as a writer, but it never quite makes it above OK.