A very very happy publication day to Marianne Holmes and her wonderful novel A Little Bird Told Me. I apologize for publishing this review so late but Gatwick didn’t want me to use its WiFi!!!
A big thank you to Agora Books and more particularly Olly for sending me a beautiful copy of the book and for letting me celebrate this special day. This review is unbiased.
Title: A Little Bird Told Me
Author: Marianne Holmes
Date of publication: September 13th 2018
Publisher: Agora Books
Rating: 🧚♀️🧚♀️🧚♀️🧚♀️ and a half
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
And atone for the part she played in it.
A Little Bird Told Me … that I would enjoy this novel written by Marianne Holmes.
A Little Bird Told Me … a lot about family. Ours and those of others, how we form cells, how they meet, how they evolve. How they get destroyed.
Marianne Holmes’s novel, set in 1976 and 1988, took me to years I wasn’t born yet, to places I didn’t know, and to cultural questions that still echo in our days. Along with our main character, Robyn, and her brother, I discovered taboos surrounding lives and I realized how far we have come. And how far we still have to go.
Robyn’s mother helps women. Early in the novel is implied a heavy past and some sketchy parts of the life of a woman with two kids, that fear and bravery saved. Because when you have lived the worst, you want to hold out a hand to those who have no one to turn to, those whose present resembles your past. I adored Gemina. Multi-layered and nurturing, saved but caring, she puts women in need before her herself, no matter what the neighbors have to say. Who knows who would really muster the courage to stand up against society when what happens behind closed doors is taboo? What would I do? Every time fiction puts me in this position, I know I have hit the jackpot. Here, the author lifts the question like the feather of a bird. And Robyn’s mother, just like a dove, brings clones of her younger self to the nest. And to hell with it, she will move mountains to do what is right.
Until what’s right puts her and her own family in danger. Birds do chirp. Sometimes crows can hear them from so far away that they have no chance of escape once the prey is recognized.
In 1988, Robyn and her brother are looking for answers. This mirroring of time frames was so perfectly in sync I was equally engrossed in both sides and hoped for the best, knowing deep down in my heart that if 1988 raised questions, then 1976 had raised more terrible things. More than ten years keep the events apart, but tongues still didn’t move, mouths wouldn’t talk.
Oh, oh frustrating! But oh, so brilliant!
In 1988, Robyn is looking for her mother, and when this dawned on me, I could only imagine the worst. What had happened for this strong woman to leave her children alone, desperately looking for answers in a town that didn’t want them there? I could feel the animosity whenever Robyn walked the streets as if eyes were staring at my own back. I could feel the weight of the past burdening the present and with every jump to 1976, my unease grew. There is a circle of darkness surrounding the family, a fascinating line of secrets following them everywhere. A coming-of-age from the dark. Quietly, like the sun settling in for the night, the intrigue hooked me and I flew over the pages, taking in the view from a distance, linked to the ground by the superb style of the author’s pen.
Thank you to Marianne Holmes for combining so many elements together in perfect harmony, a harmony that satisfied the crime lover, the family explorer, and the pure reader in me. All of the ‘me’s inside my head got a piece of yummy brownie!
There is so much going on in A Little Bird Told Me, and yet the characterization and sense of place are what make it a unique and beautiful piece of fiction. Say bye to 2018, immerse yourself in a beautiful and mysterious prose. You will be surprised. I know I was! I expected a light literary novel, I got a smashing piece of literary life!!!! Childhood is brought back, both through the eyes of a kid and those of a young adult, giving an insightful perspective on events for which children often don’t have the keys to understand. And how important are those keys? Heart-brokenly important.
A Little Bird Told Me is inspiring, captivating, intriguing, and beautifully written. An outstanding cry in the sky of the book world.
Treat yourself, get this beauty: Amazon
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 andrunning 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.