The Earth Hums in B Flat - Book of the Month
by Mari Strachan
Twelve year old Gwenni Morgan is a dreamer, a lover of books, has a special talent for eavesdropping and believes she can fly. It’s the 1950s and Gwenni has lived in the same quiet Welsh village all her life with her mum, dad, and sister, Bethan. When the father of a family that she babysits for disappears, the irrepressible Gwenni is determined to unravel the mystery but her amateur sleuthing reveals dark secrets about her own family that Gwenni could never have possibly envisaged.
The wonderfully quirky Gwenni is the narrator of the story and her unique voice really gets into the reader’s head. Wrapped up in her own world, often rebuffed by her unhappy mother for reasons she doesn’t understand (a girl who thinks that she can fly, is watched by Toby jugs and peeling distemper, might appear “odd” to the rest of the village) Gwenni can’t seem to get answers to any of the questions that bother her.
This is a serious book that poses questions about mental illness, familial ties and the consequences of kept secrets, but I was totally charmed by it. The writing is rhythmical and poetic and the character of Gwenni Morgan utterly enchanting:
“At school, when I sang the note to Mr. Hughes he said it was B flat but he laughed when I said it was the note the Earth hummed. He said: You’lll be hearing the music of spheres next Gwenni. He doesn’t know how the Earth’s deep, never-ending note clothes me in rainbow colours and fills my head with all the books ever written, and feeds me with the smell of Mrs Sergeant Jones’s famous vanilla biscuits and the strawberry taste of Instant Whip and the cool slipperiness of glowing red jelly. I could stay up here forever without the need for anything else in the whole world.”
Read our interview with Mari Strachan.