Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams

Ginny is upstairs, watching out the window for the return of her sister Vivi. It has been years since Vivi has come home, and now that their parents are dead and they are both in the autumns of their lives Vivi has decided to come home. As Ginny waits she remembers their childhood, the highs, the lows and the moths. Ginny like so many of her forefathers is a lepidopterist, whilst Vivi has never been interested. Once Vivi arrives, Ginny finds her whole world turned upside down and in the space of one weekend a myraid of dark family secrets unravels into a dramatic climax.

For anyone who has read the The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox I thoroughly recommend that you read this. Although in some ways a similar theme, this is far more accessible yet with more twists and turns. It is beautifully written and Poppy Adams has a superb knack of lulling you into a false sense of security and leading you up the garden path before finally revealing all. I am surprised this is her first book but I will definitely be looking out for her next one.

This is definitely a meaty book exploring the relationships of parent and child and siblings in an era when you didn't talk about private things. This creates many secrets and lies and you're never sure who knows what because no one is really talking to each other. As the book unfolds you begin to realise that things that you assume only one or two people knew, in fact was a secret shared by many. It also illustrates how secrets and lies will all unravel and that the consequences are not always anticipated.

I really don't want to spoil this book for potential readers so I won't go into the themes the book covers in more detail than this. Suffice to say, I wouldn't call it a light hearted read but at the same time it didn't feel constantly bleak (like Eastenders makes you feel if you watch a few episodes and realise that in fact most of the families are there to suffer because nothing goes right in the end for anyone). I found that how I imagined the family and how it worked constantly changed as more and more flashbacks occurred and as Ginny and Vivi interacted. The good news is the bits about the moths are not offputting for those of us with no interest in the subject. It adds another beautiful layer to this book that adds to the storyline rather than existing as a separate theme.

I would definitely recommend this book to others and especially to book groups as there are plenty of topics for discussion.

*5 stars*

If you enjoyed this why not try 'The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox' by Maggie O'Farrell?

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