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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 12 June 2021

"Landslide!" by Veronique Day

Laurent, at fourteen, is a disappointment to his father so he is sent to supervise four younger children on holiday near Montpelier. A landslide traps the five kids in a house on the edge of a ravine. No one notices that they are missing for over a week. They have to use ingenuity to survive and try to escape.

The book is written in third person omniscient past tense and in a remarkably didactic form, even when giving dialogue. Here, for example, is Lauren (14) explaining to 6-year-old Daniel why the children won't be suffocated by the fumes in the next room: "The fumes will stay in a closed room, like water in the bottom of a basin. The gas is produced by burning wood and coal, and even by us when we breathe. Your body is, in fact, like a stove. Your lungs are a hearth that draws in clean air and throws off carbon dioxide. But here in this room there is nothing to worry about; I have left the rubbish-tip wide open and although it's not warm, we have fresh air." The six-year-old replies: "I see, thank you." (Ch 3) The book is full of practical things like this explaining how the children survive their predicament but the dialogue is farcically old-fashioned. And di Parisian parents really send their children off to stay over Christmas in a hotel by themselves as a character-building exercise for a young teenager?

I wasn't sold on the verisimilitude. The characters are well-drawn (especially naughty Bertille) but they all sound so much older than they are supposed to be. After a discussion about planting pine trees to prevent soil erosion, six-year-old Alexis observes, philosophically: "Some people demolish everything and others build it up again." (Ch 4)

But at the end, when Lauren says "You can tell Papa that the snail came out of its shell" I was sobbing. So even this matter-of-fact narration packed, for me, a punch.

I first read this in 1965, when I was 8. 

July 2021; 126 pages

This review was written by

the author of Motherdarling 

and The Kids of God

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