I had heard good things about this book and could not believe my eyes when I saw Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens on the shelf of the foreign language section of my local FNAC store in Setúbal. Usually the only English language books they stock are either new releases of Penguin classics or authors such as JK Rowling, George RR Martin and Danielle Steel. Greedily grabbing the only copy and heading to the checkout, I was impatient to start reading…and it did not disappoint.
Within a couple of pages I was completely hooked and had totally bought into Kya’s predicament, every heart string tugged for her plucky nature and relentless sole survival against all odds. And I was enthralled by Delia’s vivid descriptions of the marshlands and the myriad wildlife they supported, transported into the North Carolina heat so that I could virtually hear the cicadas in the background as I read. It was like slipping on a favourite pair of hardly-worn shoes that had lain forgotten in the back of the wardrobe; every page transmitting a warm glow that was both new and exciting yet familiar in its essence. It seemed like years since I had read something that I enjoyed as much as this.
But as Kya matured and the inevitable attention of the local male population began to dominate the storyline, I found myself wishing for a return to the world of Kya’s childhood.
At times it felt as though the novel was in danger of slipping into Danielle Steel territory (no offence to Danielle Steel intended, it’s just not a genre I enjoy), like the narrative flow had lost its innocence alongside the prospect of Kya losing hers. Happily, equilibrium is regained and as the storyline progresses we find ourselves witness to the harsh reality of small town prejudice with its generous reach encompassing economic and educational as well as racial prejudice.
There are no spoilers in my review so I will not say any more about how Kya’s life plays out. I will just say that although I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it unhesitatingly, I finished it less enamoured than when I began. To me, it almost felt as though Delia was looking for a twist to add because, well, that’s what you do, isn’t it.
Of course, that’s just my opinion and I am nobody whereas Delia is a New York Times bestseller whose novel is about to be turned into a major movie directed by Rees Witherspoon. You may read Crawdads and utter “What tosh and nonsense, it was intriguing and compelling from first to last, you have no idea what you’re talking about!”
Read it, let me know.