Review: Mari Strachan – The Earth Hums in B Flat (audio book)

Mari StrachanI love listening to audio books around the house and when I’m out and about. However, I rarely listen to book that I haven’t first read in print. This is mainly because, multi-tasker that I am, I like to listen to audio books and do something else. However, occasionally a book seems an ideal read in audio format and review that appeared on the Remembering Petrona website by Eurocrime‘s Laura Root had me downloading it from my Audible account. The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan is a very unusual novel and a delight to listen to and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Gwenni is the narrator of events that take place in a small Welsh village in the 1950s. She dreams of flying around the place at night and her strange ways are tolerated and looked on with amusement by the locals, although her mother warns her that she is in danger of being considered ‘odd’. Family forms the centre of Gwenni’s world – her acerbic Mam who becomes increasingly depressed, her supportive Taid and her smug older sister Bethan. But she also forms a close friendship with the Evans family, even though her naivety prevents her from seeing the abuse that Mrs Evans is suffering. When the patriarch of the family, Ifan, is found drowned in the reservoir she tries to put her investigative skills to the test to discover what happened.

I don’t think I’ve read a bad review of this book and with good reason. It’s beautifully written and the narration in the audio book by Jenni Lea-Jones is absolutely spot on. It’s not really a crime novel, but a narration of events by a child, whose ‘quaintness’ may well be a medical condition (aspergers?). But it is a delight to see the world through her eyes and her take on what are clearly grim events.

The incidental moments are a joy to read. Mrs Llywelyn-Pugh wears a fox fur that Gwenni can’t abide and hides it in a cake tin for her mam to find; Alwenna is her best friend who has just discovered  boys and doesn’t want her odd friend accompanying her on her assignations. The death of Ifan isn’t really at the heart of the book but the insularity of small villages, that allow open secrets to gather momentum, is.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that my family are Welsh and it was great to hear the accents and colloquialisms used in the audio narration. I’d like to read other books by this author and, if you get a chance, I would put this one to the top of your list.

Bernadette’s glowing review at Reactions to Reading also prompted me to download the book.