Review Summary: Mari Strachan’s The Earth Hums in B Flat is a story I was very sad to see end. In Gwenni Morgan Mari Strachan has brought to life a real gem of a character.
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The Earth Hums in B Flat Synopsis
Young Gwenni Morgan is fond of strawberry whip, detective stories, and asking difficult questions. When a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, she resolves to uncover the secret of his disappearance. She truthfully records what she sees and hears: but are her deductions correct? What is the real truth? And what will be the consequences – for Gwenni, her family, and her community – of finding it out?
The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan is memorable and moving. Her young narrator Gwenni Morgan is one of the most endearing characters you’ll come across in fiction.
We meet Gwenni growing up in a small Welsh village in the late 1950s, in ostensibly simpler times than ours. The village is filled with eclectic characters who all know each other’s business, many small-minded and scarred from the war. Although bookish and bright, Gwenni is more innocent and naive to the ways of the world than most of her teenage counterparts.
The charming way Gwenni personifies inanimate objects and dreams of flying adds whimsy to the story. But this device, a veil through which Gwenni observes the often traumatic goings-on around her, has a greater structural purpose.
Gwenni’s sweet narration acts as a counterweight to the dark and unsettling subject matter at the core of this tale – mental illness, illegitimacy and domestic abuse. We watch as Gwenni’s kind-hearted and generous spirit learns life’s lessons the hard way.
A determined leading lady
Outwardly, Gwenni Morgan’s sleuthing is as determined and precocious as that of Alan Bradley’s much-loved character Flavia de Luce, but that’s where the similarities end. Unlike the feisty Flavia who takes great delight in confusing and aggravating her elders, poor Gwenni does so without a speck of malicious intent. In her search for meaning in life and the answers to mysteries shrouding the village, she asks many awkward questions of those around her; answers to which are truths they feel are better left unspoken. Such interactions provide many amusing interludes that balance the darker subject matter.
The cast of The Earth Hums in B Flat developed by Mari Strachan, and in particular, her leading lady Gwenni Morgan, are beautifully realised. Audiobook narrator Jenni Lea-Jones has taken this wonderful script and added her own magic, filling the characters with emotion and bringing them to life.
Although at times heartbreaking, The Earth Hums in B Flat is a story I was very sad to see end. In Gwenni Morgan Mari Strachan has brought to life a real gem of a character; one you want to check in on in years to come, just to see how she’s faring.
A beautiful novel – one I’d highly recommend.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5
Get your copy of The Earth Hums in B Flat from:
Genre: Mystery, Crime-Detective, Literature, Audio, Historical
About the Author, Mari Strachan
Mari Strachan was born into a Welsh family in Harlech, on the north-west coast of Wales, and was brought up there with Welsh as her first language. After graduating from Cardiff University she qualified as a chartered librarian, and worked in a variety of libraries, from academic through public and prison to school libraries, with occasional forays into other occupations.
In 2007 she acquired an MA (with distinction) in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. As well as writing and reading, Mari’s interests include the past and its people, and the future, in the form of sustainable living. She and her husband now live on a tiny smallholding in Ceredigion. Mari currently has two published titles, The Earth Hums in B Flat and Blow on a Dead Man’s Embers.