BookBrowse Reviews The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

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The Earth Hums in B Flat

by Mari Strachan

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan
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    Jun 2009, 336 pages

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A magical novel about the trials of youth, familial duty, and understanding


Nineteen BookBrowse members reviewed this book, with sixteen rating it a 4 or 5 out of 5 stars. This is what they say ....
A story of long hidden secrets and enlightening revelations, this novel by a sixty-two-year-old former librarian is a stunning debut (Alan K & Beverly B) At first I thought it was going to be a sweet "feel good" book about village life, but the plot and character development make it much more (Margaret R) - it is a winding mystery, wrapped in unusual neighbors and families who love each other 'warts and all,' told with delicious narrative and down-to-earth humor (Marge B).

In the beginning I felt it was difficult to put my finger on the time and setting (a small village in 1950s Wales), but I was gradually drawn in by the main character and the story. Once I fell into the rhythm of the language and the events, I was hooked. The author does an excellent job capturing the innocence of Gwenni and using her point of view to tell the story (Dorian B).  She is a typical 13 year old beginning to outgrow her childhood imagination and enter into adolescence. I loved her loyalty and protectiveness of her friends and family as she discovers their secrets (Marcia F). Bright, imaginative and inquisitive, she flies right into one's heart and into the beginning of adult understanding (Jean O).

I was captivated by this magical story; it's painful to witness the loss of Gwenni's innocence, but you can't help but fall in love with her loving and unique spirit (Vicki R). This was a truly enjoyable book! I loved it and hope that Ms. Strachan will write a sequel (Marcia F).

However
I found it a bit of a slow-go in the beginning, because the author writes as if all her readers understand Welsh names and words. But Gwenni's spirit kept me reading through the difficulties and revelations she had to endure (Susan G). I found her father and his saintliness slightly overdone and Gwenni's constant failure to put two and two together, even when the evidence is right in front of her, tedious (Barbara H).

I liked this book but am not sure I would recommend it to a friend. I found the writing uneven, and the mixture of fantasy and reality was jolting to me at times but the ending neatly ties the two together with a gentle smile (Maxine D).

The Last Word
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).

This review is from the June 10, 2009 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



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