Published by Cannongate
The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan
Gwenni Morgan is not like the other girls in her small Welsh town. She reads lots of books, flies in her sleep, and likes to play detective. When a neighbour vanishes she decides to conduct her own investigation. She finds out more than she bargained for and uncovers some family secrets.
This is a debut novel with a great title and a magical story. The story is told from the point of view of a twelve and a half year old girl who lives in a small town in north Wales. It is set in the 1950’s, and families still boiled the kettle on the fire, sisters shared beds, and everybody knew everybody else, and all their secrets. Best friends were most important, and children still attended Sunday school on a Sunday afternoon. The writing is superb, it is dark in parts and comic in others. The characters are very well drawn, from the fey Gwenni to her neurotic pill popping mother, to the hateful sister and the mysterious aunt next door, never seen. Gwenni’s imagination causes her a few problems as she thinks she is being observed by Buddy Holly in a poster on her bedroom wall and has to undress under the covers of her bed, and the Toby jugs in the kitchen hear every word that is said. There are lovely Welshisms like Edward the bank and Mrs Owen the milk, which give real colour to the story. When a neighbour is found dead Gwenni decides to investigate, and help the police. The real story unfolds slowly and secrets of her own family emerge as well. Gwenni is really a delightful girl who can tell lies if she crosses her fingers at the same time, flies in her sleep all over the town, and remembers a time when she was small that she could fly when she was awake.
The only negative I have is that the story felt a bit rushed at the end and a new Aunt was introduced to tie up all the ends, but I would highly recommend this book and hope the writer gives us a sequel about this Welsh town.