Review: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon’s book takes a look behind the net curtains of 1970s Britain. There are enough positive reviews about The Trouble with Goats and Sheep to make me think I must be missing something – but I have no idea what that might be.

Set in the long hot summer if 1976, 10 year old Grace lives on a suburban estate where a neighbour goes missing. Mrs Creasy’s disappearance raises tensions in this middle class enclave, cracks start to show in their respectable lives, and Grace watches as their closely guarded secrets are revealed.

Choosing Grace as our narrator would normally be a winner – to Kill a Mockingbird’s Scout Finch is one of the best narrators in history, her straightforward view cuts through the decisions of adults in a seemingly complex world. Grace doesn’t provide this clarity though, instead we’re treated to a whole bunch of 1970s cultural touch points: Jackie magazines, drinking Babycham, eating a bowl of Angel Delight. I’m only surprised Cannon didn’t give over more pages to fondue.

I felt like I’d read this book, or seen the story a hundred times before in bad Sunday evening dramas on the TV. There’s nothing new here.

I can’t recommend this book one bit. If you’re looking for an easy popcorn read, then I’d go for the Widow instead.


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