Midweek book club – Jonathan Coe & Jess Stockham

Happy Wednesday! It’s midweek book club time and as before, I’ll be doing one for parents and one for children. Parents first.

Jonathan Coe – The Rain Before it Falls

I like Jonathan Coe and have read several of his other novels. This is a standalone tale which I think he published after the Rotters Club and sequels. It’s also the only one I’ve read by him that has a female narrator and protagonist – always a difficult one to pull off, though I think he manages it well. The main structure of the novel is told in a series of tape recording transcripts told by Rosamond, who narrates her early life and that of her wild cousin Beatrix, for the benefit of an unknown girl. After Rosamonds death, her niece Gill, and her daughters, listen to the tapes and attempt to track down the girl as Rosamond wished. I enjoyed the story as far as it went – a tale of old fashioned rural Britain in  time of social change and I thought the characters were well drawn. But then it ended. The ending was rushed and rather disappointing, not in the way the story panned out, but in the style. The parts with Gill and her daughters were written in standard third person narrative with the tape recordings being in first person. The denouement, by necessity, couldn’t be told at a distance since it involved Gill herself. Or so I thought. I wanted a face to face meeting. But I got a letter instead. It felt a bit like he chickened out. I think he’s too good a writer to actually have done that but I wonder what the thought process was that decided to deny me a scene I thought was natural.

And now E’s choice for children!

Jess Stockham – Making Friends! Just Like Us

The health visitor gave us this as part of the Bookstart initiative. I think Bookstart is fabulous, though hardly needed in this house of books. If we took the books out there’s a good chance the walls will fall down. Still, we got this free and E loves it. It doesn’t have a storyline, it’s a series of set pieces that show animals doing something that you then lift a flap to reveal children doing the same thing. For example, “Budgerigars chatter cheerfully… just like us!” E loves lift the flap books so the reveal is fun for her and she’s also learnt (from the chimpanzee page) to hold hands – when you read that page and hold your hand out she will place her little hand on it. Gets me every time. The children are of different races, good for E as it reflects the children she mixes with at nursery and swimming lessons, and one even has a hearing aid in his ear. The anti-PC brigade might complain but I like that level of detail.

Having just read the Amazon reviews I find this is one of a series of books that casually feature children with disabilities in them and has been commended by Scope for just that reason.

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