Review Blog

Sep 30 2020

The great Godden by Meg Rosoff

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Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781526618511.
(Age: secondary) Highly recommended. 'The actors assembled, the summer begins', is the last sentence of the second chapter in this captivating read.
The unnamed narrator, watching all from the tower above the house, often using a telescope to survey the proceedings below, is in love with Kit as he winds his way into all their lives, just as markedly as his glowering brother does not.
This summer is just like every summer in the past, a family staying in their beach house, their good friends, Malcolm and Hope nearby. The second child, Mattie falls for Kit and the two become inseparable, although only on Kit's terms, while Hope and Malcolm prepare for their wedding at the end of the summer. Malcolm learns his lines to star in a new production of Hamlet, Tamsin the narrator's younger sister goes off riding most days and the fourth child, Alex spends his time hunting down nature, often under the floorboards.
The story is woven around the theatre: Kit hopes to go to RADA, Malcolm learns his lines, Mattie the beautiful poses for England, Mum sews for the opera company, Kit and Hugo are the LA raised offspring of a minor actress, but all have a part to play this summer. Kit and Hugo are staying with Hope and Malcolm while their mother works on a film in Yugoslavia. These two young men change the usual dynamics of summer at the beach.
The weeks moves along, the narrator getting part time work at the local shop, Dad returns to London for work, while the girls help sew, choose bridesmaid dresses  and prepare for the wedding. Tamsin has seen people illegally netting birds on her rides, a sail around the bay is due to take place and the two families meet every day for swimming, cards, barbecue and idle chat. The scene it instantly recognisable, families lounging at the beach, happy in each other's company, mulling over past holidays, eager about the changes in store.
Each of the characters is masterfully developed: the reader knows each one intimately. The unnamed narrator is a wonderful creation, tugging at the readers' imaginings, playing with the perception that readers have of just who is telling the tale. Rosoff builds the story step by step, succinct and mesmerising until the bubble bursts, surprising us all, the families unaware of the power Kit has over them all.
Theme: Friendship, Families, Relationships, Growing up, Power.
Fran Knight

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