Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Book 7 of 2012: St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves

Jen over at HTV has restarted the book club (which was originally started several years ago but which fizzled out in the last year) and St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is the first of the resurrected club's books.

Unfortunately my local library (and every other library in the area) refused to acknowledge its existence. Thankfully Jen sent me her copy to borrow (I love that the internet has introduced me to some brilliant friends who are willing to send books 400 miles away so I don't miss out).
The first thing that sucked me into this book has to be the cover. I mean, look at it, it's beautiful. How can you resist a book that looks like this? I mean, it's all very well to say that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but one that looks like this has a lot to live up to.

And it did.

With books that are being recommended, either through the book club or one of the trees, I try to avoid reading the blurbs or anything about them online. At least until I get to the end of the book, then I check them out to see whether I agree with them. It's probably one of those weird little quirks, but it helps me to avoid forming opinions beforehand.

So it caught me as a bit of a surprise that this was a collection of short stories, I wasn't sure what to expect, so when I saw the list of story titles I realised I'd been expecting an ordinary novel. I'm so glad that it wasn't just one long story. I don't think any of the stories would have benefitted from being longer, they were just long enough to draw you in, get you well and truly into it and then wrap up. You wanted more, but the stories were complete enough... if that makes sense.

I would have loved to have been able to read this all in one sitting. In fact, if I'd started it at the weekend, I would have just sat in bed and refused to move until I was done. Unfortunately I started it on a Tuesday night and then had to stop reading (because it was a work night) and take it to work with me the following day. I caught snippets of it in my breaks and finished it at last in bed that night, so it is a wonderfully quick read.

The one downside to reading it this way is that I had to stop and start a couple of times during a couple of the stories and I would have been better off taking breaks at the end of the stories. They were really intriguing with little links between the stories and these little elements of magic-realism that went completely unexplained, but the stories were complete little units in themselves.

The way it was written reminded me a lot of Kate Atkinson's Not The End Of The World , another book club book which I fell in love with several years ago. There were similar little fantastical elements in it as well as the links between each of the stories. As with that one, I liked to spot the links between them all.

My very favourite story of the bunch was without a doubt Haunting Olivia. The story of two boys whose younger sister drifted out to sea, and who find a scuba mask allowing them to see ghosts underwater, so try to find her. It's quite sad and I just loved the way it was written.

I also liked the title story, St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves. I'd been looking forward to reading it from the start and it didn't disappoint. It follows the girls from were-families who are taken in to a convent and taught to become humans. It was another one with a touch of sadness to it, but there's also a strong sense of humour throughout the whole story and the two balance each other out well.

There were a few which were a little bit weird, like the first one Ava Wrestles The Alligator. But I wouldn't say I disliked them, I think I just needed give myself time to get the swing of the how the book was written. Even the ones which were a bit on the strange side were beautifully written, poignant and had that same humourous streak to them.

I'm definitely going to have to get hold of a copy for myself at some point because it's a lovely book that deserves a reread. I desperately wanted to recommend it to everyone at work, but it's one of those books that I'm hesitant to suggest to others in case they don't love it as much as I do. Then again, writing out a review like this will probably do more for it than my gushing "I'm reading this incredible book, it's weird and amazing and I don't want to put it down" that I came out with to my friends.
"I loved Olivia. But that doesn't mean I didn't recognise that she was one weird little kid. She used to suffer these intense bouts of homesickness in her own bedroom. When she was very small, she would wake up tearing at her bedspread and shrieking, "I wanna go home! I wanna go home!" Which was distressing to all of us, of course, because she was home."
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1 comment:

  1. Ooh yes, lovely book cover. Reminds me a bit of the covers that used to go on Richard Adams novels, like Watership Down


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