A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes Agora Books September 13th 2018
Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?
In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.
As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…
Twelve years later, Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.
And atone for the part she played in it.
The sweltering summer of 1976 is but a distant memory for myself but for Robyn or Little Bird it was as clear as if it were yesterday. The events that happened shaped who Robyn was, how she conducted her life and her relationships with those around her. The Robyn she was then did not resemble the present day Robyn.
So who was Robyn then and now? Back in 1976 Robyn was a little girl, spending time with her friends, with a mother who adored her, a brother Kit to whom she was very close. and Matthew a stepfather who treated them as if they were his own. Yet I sensed there was something unstable about the family. Little clues began to creep into the narrative and when a stranger turned up and specifically targeted Robyn I just knew they were running away from something, something that neither Robyn or I as the reader knew anything about.
What frustrated me was that Robyn’s mother knew and despite protests from Kit and Matthew refused to talk to Robyn, attempting to rid them of the issue, despite the ensuing events and devastating consequences.
I loved Holmes’s portrayal of Robyn from the young innocent, naive little girl to the damaged, bitter women of present day who sought the truth about her past and the events that led her back home. She was a young woman with guts and determination and in the end brave and courageous. I did feel that she was the only one who really wanted the truth, that her brother Kit found it all too much, who just wanted to leave the past behind.
The narrative itself, was full of the most wonderful imagery and, at times I felt like I was in small town America rather than a village in England. The sweltering and shimmering heat almost exaggerated the actions of the characters, the intense heat added immensely to the high tension and drama that slowly built within the pages.
What impressed, was the skill by which Holmes managed to add suspense to what was essentially a family drama. You had an inkling as to the truth but it wasn’t until the latter parts that the pieces of the jigsaw slowly began to fit together, with a dramatic ending that was so befitting of this wonderful story.
It is so hard to believe that this is a debut novel, as it was so wonderfully written. The American feel Holmes conveyed, with its family dynamics and characters reminded me of the author Anne Tyler, a writer who I admire and I mean this as a complement to Holmes and her obvious skill as an author.
I cannot wait for her next novel and do hope that the wait will not be a long one.
I would like to thank Agora Books for a copy of A Little Bird Told Me to read and review and to Oliver Wearing for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Marianne Holmes was born in Cyprus to RAF parents and bounced between the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium until firmly basing herself in London – well, apart from those years in the Peak District.
A love of language led to degrees in Classics and Linguistics from the University of London but her desire to pay the mortgage steered her to a career in Marketing. After distracting herself in all sorts of ways over the years – sailing, flying, plastering, consulting, volunteering and running away to India – she is now definitely, absolutely concentrating on her writing. Well, that and making sure her children get fed, clothed and entertained. Obviously.