The Earth Hums in B Flat
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The Earth Hums in B Flat

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,386 ratings  ·  273 reviews
Gwenni Morgan is an incorrigible free spirit with a penchant for eavesdropping and a stubborn need to understand human behavior, which merely leads to more questions. Her struggle to define the world around her is offset by a fantastic dream world where each night she rises from the bed she shares with her sister and flies high into the sky above her small Welsh village. T...more
Paperback, 327 pages
Published 2010 by Canongate Books (first published November 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Jo
“Whales, porpoises, mermaids and mermen, dead sailors, fishes, crabs, tiny shrimps; the sea is forever full of eyes that watch me. I never fly far beyond the shore. If my town were a map the bay would have Here be Monsters written on it in golden ink.”

It always feels a cop out when I write a review about a book such as ‘The Earth Hums in B- Flat’ because I’m going to go on and on about how much I enjoyed it and you’ll read with wide-eyes shining, practically quivering with excitement because y...more
Emily
Really quite good, but somewhat painful reading. It reminds me in some ways of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in that it's about an ultra-naive child who decides to turn detective and is oblivious to the consternation she leaves in her wake as she goes about her investigations. A case could be made for an Asperger's diagnosis for Gwenni (besides her inability to comprehend other people's reactions, there's her extreme sensitivity to tastes and smells -- one has to read rather...more
Felice
I'm suspicious of adult novels told in the first person from a child's point of view. The child is never really a child. It's always a quirky little prophet machine. It's innocence a mask in place to reveal the hypocrisy of adults. This doesn't mean that there haven't been novels like this that I have enjoyed. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Sweetnees at the Bottom of the Pie come to mind.

Another book to add to this list is The Earth Hums In B Flat by Mari Stranchan. G...more
Karen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stefanie
I thought this was an interesting book. I picked it up in a charity shop because I liked the title and cover and thought it sounded interesting.

For me it fell a little short. We never learn the full story about Mam and Ifan Evans and why she still seemed to love him 14 or so years later even though he was abusive to his wife and possibly his children (they never did say what really happened to the twins).

I just felt the story was all a little too vague, with some things Gwenni investigated too m...more
Carrie Fletcher
‘Gwenni Morgan is not like any other girl in her small Welsh town. Inquisitive, bookish and fill of spirit, she can fly in her sleep and loves playing detective. So when a neighbour mysteriously vanished and no one seems to be asking the right questions, Gwenni decided to conduct her own investigation.’
It was only by chance that I stumbled across this book and decided to buy it. I was supposed to be working and when i got there i got a call saying they’d moved the time we were meeting to and hou...more
Patrick Neylan
It's set in Wales. Don't forget that. Well, you can't. In fact, the author spends most of the first 100 pages painting an initially charming but eventually tiresome picture of an authentic North Welsh town in the Catherine Cookson-style long-ago-when-life-was-harder-but-the-world-was-better picture-postcard past. For instance, things are never white, they're "as white as the winter snow on Llapgoch" - just in case at any point you forget that IT'S SET IN WALES.

When the story finally gets going,...more
Rhi
superb, absolutely superb.
i didn't want it to end, and dragged out reading it because of that.

welsh literature is my most favorite of genres, and this did not disappoint. full of all the good stuff, madness, murder, family, welsh tradition, and one superb little female protagonist. what is it that makes me love welsh literature so much? perhaps the nostalgia of tea time at my mam and da's, with a spread of bread and butter and cakes gallore. perhaps the phrases that really are still used today a...more
Nicola
This book definitely gets full marks for originality. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it before. Both the writing style and plot were interesting and unique. I liked the setting a lot and also enjoyed all the interesting Welsh names. Gwenni was a likable enough character and she had an intriguing way of looking at things. The story moved a little too slowly for my liking though and I predicted the main plot twist from the start which was annoying. Most of the characters were pre...more
Philippa
4-4.5*

The story itself is told from the perspective of 12 year old Gwenni, growing up in the 1950s in Wales. Gwenni is a kind and thoughtful girl, with a very active imagination, firmly believing that in her sleep she flies and hears the sound of the earth's hum. One day, when a member of the community goes missing she is determined to work out what has happened as she watches the people she love feel the shock waves of it. Gwenni's quest for answers will reveal some buried truths about the peo...more
Mark
This book was a fascinating approach to childhood, eccentricity and the dangerous knock on effect of ill kept secrets. The narrator, a young girl called Gwenni, is attempting to pick her way through the ups and downs of that strange unknown hinterland of childhood moving into adolescence. Falling in and out of friendship, discovering boys but not particularly liking the discovery and over arching it all is her bizarre imagination and a whole host of phobias and worries. Her family life is, to sa...more
Trudi
This book starts out slow with not a whole lot happening. It’s definitely one of those reads that sneaks up on you in an amazing way, and you are so grateful to have stuck with it by the time you reach the end. Strachan uses a lot of Welsh idioms and dialect which takes a bit of getting used to. The first half is on the lighter fluffier side as the characters that populate Gwenni’s young life and a small 1950s Welsh town are introduced.

Told in the first-person, Gwenni is a precocious and imagina...more
Kelly
On the surface The earth hums is about the humdrum life in a small 1950's Welsh town as seen through our protagonist Gwenni Morgan. Gwenni is a somewhat lonely young girl who is a voracious reader of novels including detective tales. She also has a vivid imagination believing that she can fly at night and that toby jugs and the distemper in her house are watching her family. In spite of her imagination everything is black and white for Gwenni and she takes things very literally. When the husband...more
Grace
'The Earth Hums In B Flat' center's around oddball twelve-year-old Gwennie as she tries to solve the mystery of her neighbors disappearance and discover her family history. Strachan creates a brilliant picture of a small Welsh community where everyone knows everyone's secrets but nobody ever speaks of them. Her character's are wonderfully described, I especially enjoyed the police Sargent who seemed to make everything groan under his weight. Gwennie's mother is suffering from some sort of bi-pol...more
Nikki
(Final book for the readathon. Seventh book/eighth text. Finished the last third after the readathon ended.)

I don't know what I expected from this book. It's somewhat marketed as a mystery, I suppose, but that's a little misleading. The central character, Gwenni, isn't a precocious little child detective, a mini Sherlock Holmes. She's a slightly odd child, with a lot of imagination and a funny way of putting things, and about the complications in her life that begin with the disappearance of one...more
Louise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
The main character, Gwenni, is a young girl living in Wales in the 1950's. Gwenni wants to be a detective when she grows up and gets herself in trouble often by asking too many questions. She can't help it. She has a curious mind. She 'has' to know about things. Oh, and Gwenni can fly . . .

This is a beautifully written book. The Welsh names took a bit of getting used to at first, but I found myself giving the characters names I could pronounce :) A touching story, but not overly sentimental, wit...more
Pauline
I enjoyed parts of it but was quite depressing in other parts. Average read for me.
Surymae
...Menomale che non ci ho speso soldi. Menomale che non ho dato ascolto al mio istinto spendaccione che mi suggeriva di comprare "La musica segreta della terra" perché sembrava bello. Altrimenti avrei avuto un libro ben al di sotto delle aspettative che mi ero fatta. Un libro che é partito piuttosto male, per poi risollevarsi praticamente alla fine. E' partito piuttosto male per diversi motivi; prima di tutto per la voce narrante, Gwenni. Credo che, nel scegliere il punto di vista in prima perso...more
Nicole
I stayed up until 2 am reading this book, but I still don't know how I feel about it. I mean, I liked it, and I read it in about two days but some parts made me feel weird. Gwenni reminded me a bit of Flavia de Luce, but not quite. I liked how she gave us all the information but because Gwenni was a child she couldn't quite figure it out, however that made all the twists and turns a bit predictable. All of my guesses were true. But the writing was lovely.
Susan Roebuck
Another favourite read for 2014.
One of the secrets of a great book, in my opinion, is the "voice". In this case it's the voice of a 12, getting on for 13-year-old girl. Yet, this is no children or young adult book, it's firmly in the adult field as the plot unfolds through the innocent eyes of Gwenni - a loveable and gifted girl who observes her Welsh village life, its poverty and hardships as perfectly normal. Somehow the narrator reminded me of a young Dylan Thomas with simple yet beautiful pr...more
John D.
There's an inexorable slowness about this book, which is really good. Set in a small 1950s Welsh town, it tells the story of Gwenni (the narrator) and her family, as events bring out secrets long hidden, dating back to the second world war and beyond. Gwenni is a fantasist, who dreams of flying, of being a detective, of many things. But she's still a young girl, in her early teens, so her life is constrained by her family, by school and by the local church. When a man goes missing, the husband o...more
wanderaven
Quite an exceptional book - though rather more depressing than I'd anticipated.

Is it fair to take a book down a star because it hits a bit too close to home? I'm sure it isn't but since I'm the reviewer in this little world, I'll allow myself the indiscretion.
Pauline Lindeque
Beautifully written. I read this book twice in short succession as I loved all the small pretty ways of describing the world. An innocent little girl finds herself facing real world stuff and finds this confusing.
Robyn
Didn't enjoy this at all, I feel tricked somehow by the synopsis! Really boring and a very weak storyline. Most of the book was spent describing old fashioned ways of living.
Selina
I love that it is written as a 13 year old girl! You can see how she misses things and her imagination takes you on wild adventures, often missing the obvious to us as adults. Some reviews say it leaves a lot left untied and the heroine doesn't put pieces together so it feels unfinished. I like this about the book. Even when there is evidence of dark and horrible things, the innocence of the child remains in tact. You unpick what is really going on, but it is always made more beautiful by the un...more
Bette
This not my usual type of book I am drawn to but I picked it up from my local library and being Welsh, this book immediately grabbed my interest. The story as sweet and charming, set in an old Welsh town where the main character, a 12 year old Gwennie. Gwennie is a dreamer, but she is also someone who likes to ask questions and is quick to piece things together. After a mysterious incident happens in the village Gwennie puts it on herself to try and figure out what happens through the eyes of a...more
Billyf27
What a great book. I couldn't stop reading and wished it would never end.
Joy
This was another book I picked up randomly from the "New Releases" aisle
at the library. It's the first book by an Welsh author who has been a
librarian for 40 years. Perhaps it was her life-long dream to publish a
novel. I enjoyed the story about a free-spirited 12-year-old who does a
lot of eavesdropping and tries to understand human behavior. This, of
course, leads to more questions and interesting situations. She has a
difficult mother who is institutionalized by the end of the book. It's
an intere...more
Gokce ~Muslin Myst~
A good piece of fiction. The writer speaks through a child which I found very believable. It was very easy to slip into the mind of this young girl, Gwenni, who thinks she can fly in her dreams.

The book evolves around Gwenni, and through her eyes we witness a criminal case that turns the whole town's ordinary life around. Throughout the book, we read about the revelations of the town's people and their pasts through Gwenni. Now, I was glad to see that we didn't get a total conclusion in the end...more
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Is this a good book club book? 5 30 Sep 28, 2012 02:40AM  
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Mari Strachan was born into a Welsh family in Harlech, on the north-west coast of Wales, and was brought up there with Welsh as her first language.

After graduating from Cardiff University she qualified as a chartered librarian, and worked in a variety of libraries, from academic through public and prison to school libraries, with occasional forays into other occupations.

In 2007 she acquired an MA...more
More about Mari Strachan...
Blow on a Dead Man's Embers

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“Up here, far away from everybody, the night is peaceful: there's no sound except the hum of the Earth. At school, when I sang the note to Mr Hughes Music he said it was B flat but he laughed when I said it was the note the Earth hummed. He said: You'll be hearing the music of the spheres next, Gwenni. But he doesn't know how the Earth's deep, never-ending note clothes me in rainbow colors, 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 for ever without the need for anything else in the whole world.” 5 likes
“Whales, porpoises, mermaids and mermen, dead sailors, fishes, crabs, tiny shrimps; the sea is forever full of eyes that watch me. I never fly far beyond the shore. If my town were a map the bay would have Here Be Monsters written on it in golden ink.” 1 likes
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