A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes
Published: 13 September 2018, By Agora Books
Swathi’s Rating: 4/5
Verdict: A pleasant time travel back to the 80s.
When I requested this book in Netgalley, it was only because of the plot description that intrigued me. But when the book came to my door I was in total awe of its prettiness. It has a beautifully designed cover, that just matches the book in every way. The book is a literary fiction that is set during the 80s. It’s nice to picture such a backdrop in contrast to the modern world we live. So, presenting you the plot of the book!
Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?
In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.
As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…
Twelve years later, Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.
And atone for the part she played in it.
Marianne Holmes was born in Cyprus to RAF parents and bounced between the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium until firmly basing herself in London – well, apart from those years in the Peak District.
A love of language led to degrees in Classics and Linguistics from the University of London but her desire to pay the mortgage steered her to a career in Marketing. After distracting herself in all sorts of ways over the years – sailing, flying, volunteering and running away to India – she is now definitely, absolutely concentrating on her writing. Well, that and making sure her children get fed, clothed and entertained. Obviously.
A Little Bird Told Me is Marianne’s first novel.
The story revolves around 1970s to 80s, which adds the nostalgic feel to the reading experience. The plot shifts from the 70s to 80s in intermediate chapters, leaving a few years gap in between. This makes you realize the developments, and drastic changes that had happened within that short break.
Why the shift in timeline? One might wonder! The story of what happened to Robyn when she was a 11-year old haunts her to make her come back to the same place after 12 years, now determined to find out what happened back that summer. As a kid, ‘Little Bird’ Robyn and her brother Kit are super close. Kit being the overprotective kind, allows his sister to follow him wherever he goes swimming, roaming the streets and side kicking nasty kids.
As normal as the lives of the kids sound, there is the mother of them who wants to help out damaged and abused women in their community by reaching out to them. This act of kindness only causes chaos in her own house, as the kids are forced to encounter scenes of yelling neighbors who want their wife and kid back to themselves.
What makes their mother help other women? She has a dark past and a history of moving to different places, possibly to escape from someone. There is a constant fear in her as she keeps expecting the worst to happen to the kids. It’s quite complicated to guess what exactly has happened in the past, as the chapters keep changing timelines, but you can sense the tension creeping into the story, deeper and deeper.
Throughout the story, we can picture Robyn as the innocent ‘little bird’ she is, as she struggles to find out the truth that everyone around her tries to hide. Elder brother Kit is not comfortable about her meddling with the things of past, and lays his protective barrier for any danger that might come her way.
This is a short and sweet story, so I’m going to be tightlipped about the story. There are so many questions that might arise while reading the story, which just makes it so much un-put-down-able. I loved the character of Kit and Robyn, the relationship between siblings, and the unimaginable stress it takes for a mother to risk her life to protect her family and kids.
I highly recommend this literary fiction to readers who are interested in domestic noir. There is so much suspense and mystery which takes its own time to reveal. I’m looking forward to reading more from the author and the publisher, who made brought Marianne’s story into the world.
I received this book from Agora Books in exchange of my honest review. All the opinions are my own.
Happy reading. XoXo!