The Orchard on Fire
Here is another female author who should be much better known. Those slightly older than me who were aware of novelists in the 60s will know that Mackay started writing then; her first work being published when she was 16. She mixed in artistic circles and produced a body of work that was regarded as somewhat avant-garde. After a gap in the 1970s she began writing again in the 80s. This novel was short listed for the Booker Prize in 1996. Don’t let that put you off, it’s ver ...more
Picked up off the bookshelf in our holiday cottage - by Darren actually who thought I might like it based on the fact that he'd read another of Mackay's books years ago. And I did. Found it all a bit flowery at first (mostly due to reading it hot on the heels of Ian McEwan I think) but it paints a vivid picture of a 1950s village childhood. Some aspects of it I found a bit stereotypical but in the end they didn't distract from the overall tale.
April recounts her early years in Kent, where she moved to The Copper Kettle Cafe in the coronation year of 1953.
It is beautifully written, but very unsettling. Evocative of a 1950s childhood in a small village, with underlying themes of menace, fear, loneliness and isolation even at the heart of a family. It also shows the support and love (but ultimate loss) of friendship.
The novel is narrated by April Harlency, looking back on her childhood in the 1950s. She moves with her parents, Betty and Percy, to ...more
I was not sure, by the first sentences, if I would like this. Well, it was just a wonderfully spun story of friendship and the remembrance of things past. April is a girl who explores her world with bright eyes and hope. Her friendship with Ruby, a girl who likes fire, consist of reading books, getting into trouble at school and having someone to talk to. Though her character's seems a bit one-dimensional, they still exude a very human warmth, and can make you cry or laugh at a sent ...more
This is a story of two young friends, April and Ruby, growing up in the austere 1950s. Being a child of the 50s myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgia of songs, sweets, soap scents and other items that were around at that time. These were the days when children were allowed to roam and explore, create dens ...more
Where is the story?
I am sure the writing is clever, but I don't have problems locating clever writing. I want my novels to tell me a yarn, a tale, a story. I could not find one after getting half way through this book so I gave up and took up another one in hope.
For me life is too short to be spent reading this sort of stuff.
April and her family move from life in a London pub to the countryside running The Copper Kettle. Ruby becomes April's best friend and through the narrator's eyes and reasoning (April) we begin to realise that Ruby's parents are not caring and sometimes violent. Also that the friendship April is forced to have with an old man of the village is clearly not right. Mr Greenidge invites April to tea but forces kisses and hugs on her and gui ...more
I enjoyed Shena Mackay's style of writing, vivid, clourful, and flecked with subtle humour. The ...more
Her novels include the black comedy Redhill Rococo (1986), winner of the Fawcett Society Book Prize; Dunedin (1992), which won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award; and the acclaimed The Orchard ...more