When I sang the note to Mr. Hughes he said it was B flat but he laughed when I said it was the note the Earth hummed. He doesnt know how the Earths deep, never-ending note clothes me in rainbow colors and fills my head with all the books ever written. I could stay up here forever without the need for anything else in the whole world.
The Earth Hums in B Flat is a story of dark family secrets unraveled by the shrewd insight of twelve-year-old Gwenni Morgan, a child with an irrepressible spirit living in a Welsh village that is reluctantly entering the modern age. A dreamer with a knack for collecting and piecing together tidbits of information she overhears, Gwenni is forever asking unanswerable questions. From the small bed that she shares with her sister at night she flies up into the starry sky above her village and looks down on the lives of its inhabitants. And when the family that she babysits for is rocked by the sudden, unexplainable disappearance of their patriarch, Gwenni is determined to solve the mystery of Ifan Evans's whereabouts. Turning amateur detective, she is unaware that the trail will lead her closer to home than she ever imagined.
Told with a breathtaking, irresistible blend of freshness and wisdom, the voice that sixty-two-year-old Welsh debut novelist Mari Strachan has created with Gwenni is vibrant, charming, and full of heart. An unforgettable character, Gwennis unique way of seeing the world lends her the ability to make the ordinary extraordinary. A magical novel about the trials of youth, familial duty, and understanding, The Earth Hums in B Flat will transport you to another time and place.
The Earth Hums in B Flat is a magical, literary and thoroughly enchanting debut. Gwennie's voice is perfect, she's charmingly naive and we learn about life along with her as she maneuvers through the complex and quirky characters of the story. Her tale has somewhat of a 'Harriet the Spy' feel to it as she attempts to take on a local missing persons case. The last fifty pages nearly took my breath away they were so beautiful. This book will also make a terrific young adult crossover, perfect for mother-daughter book clubs.
- Linda G. (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
A lyrical debut ... [Strachan's] light touch keeps the story unfamiliar and surprising, while Gwenni's uber-precocious narration revels in a love for language and reveals an unspoiled innocence about the world. It's small, quiet and nicely done.
The author's debut novel has made her one of the Waterstone's New Voices for 2009 and it's easy to see why. Her quirky and charming tale stands out due to its blend of realism tinged with fantasy.
The Independent (UK)
It would be tempting to label The Earth Hums in B Flat – in which an 11-year-old girl investigates a disappearance in a small Welsh town in the 1950s – as Under Milk Wood meets What Was Lost, but Strachan has a voice and a vision all her own.
The Financial Times - Melissa McClements
A blend of magic, detective tale and bildungsroman, Mari Strachan's debut novel is full of quaint charm. Gwenni’s inventive take on the world – from the faces she sees in the wallpaper to her belief that a neighbour's fur stole blinks at her – is a delight.
The Guardian - Katherine Taylor
Strachan's deft handling of a dark subject is both sober and sparkling.
Catherine O’Flynn, author of What Was Lost The Earth Hums in B Flat is a richly evocative, warm but unsentimental tale of a child detective struggling to piece together clues about the lives around her. These lives, and the characters who live them, are so vividly drawn and Mari Strachan's careful unraveling of the secrets they hide is extremely compelling. I loved this novel.
Holly Myers, Elliott Bay Book Co. (Seattle, WA)
There are certain books that take you outside the page and become experiential—where you feel the dew-soaked grass on your legs, smell the dank air, squint in the darkened corners of the room, hear the shrill edge in the voices around you. The Earth Hums in B Flat is one such book that transports the reader into the life of Gwenni, its young narrator. Through Gwenni’s innocent eyes we see the world as she does.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Diane The Earth Hums in B Flat A delightful book. The author gives us Gwenni's young voice in perfect pitch. A quirky cast of characters and a seemingly straightforward murder combine to keep the reader and Gwenni guessing. Not your mother's Agatha Christie novel!
Rated of 5
by C The Earth Hums in B Flat This is a book written with a lot of freshness. Definitely not the same old, same old. It is written from the perspective of 12-year-old Gwenni. She hears about things in her small village in Wales she wants to understand and no matter how many... Read More
Rated of 5
by Alan The Earth Hums in B Flat This is the story of a gentle, imaginative 12 year old who is the narrator and voice of the story of a small Welsh town in the 1950's. It is a story of long hidden secrets and enlightening revelations. This coming of age tale is a great read.... Read More
The Language of Wales
Wales, located on the south-west peninsula of Great Britain (the main island of
the United Kingdom)
is one of the four constituent nations of the UK, the others are England,
Northern Ireland and Scotland (map). Its population is about 3 million (5% of the UK).
For more about the history of Wales, see the sidebar to
The Welsh Girl.
The traditional language of Wales, usually known as Welsh, is properly referred
to as Cymraeg (pronounced approximately 'cumraig') - as 'welsh' comes from a
Germanic word denoting foreigner or stranger. Welsh is a branch of Celtic
which, like Scottish and Irish, traces its roots to the tribal societies of Iron
Age Europe. Like its other Celtic cousins, it is a language struggling to
survive. According to the most recent census in 2001, less than 21% of the
population were able to speak Welsh and just 16% could read and
write it. The decline in usage has been slowed since the introduction of
the Welsh Language Act of 1993, which has given Welsh equal status with English...
Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumphs of two distinct cultures this is an infectious, richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes - a delectable
journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.
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