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The Earth Hums in B Flat

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,408 ratings  ·  369 reviews
Every night, 12-year-old Gwenni Morgan flies in her sleep. She leaves the bed she shares with her sister and soars into the night sky, listening to the nighttime sounds of her small Welsh village below. Irrepressible Gwenni -- a dreamer full of unanswerable questions and unbounded curiosity -- is childlike yet touchingly adult. Reluctantly facing a modern world, she prefer ...more
Paperback, 329 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Canongate (first published March 19th 2009)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Dec 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
“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 becaus
Sep 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Loved the idea behind this book, but it didn't quite end up being what I expected. I thought it was a bit slow to start. I also found it a bit confusing at first. Were there too many characters being introduced at once, or did I just struggle to remember who was who because I'm not very familiar with Welsh names, I'm not sure. It picked up near the middle where it became more of a murder mystery, and I found it more enjoyable from that point on. ...more
Carrie Hope 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
Jun 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Patrick Neylan
Sep 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 21st-century
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,
Stefanie Stokes
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
Katy Noyes
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - a murder mystery with a protagonist whose world view differs from that of the reader.

Gwenni is 13. She's smart but also naive and very imaginative, believing she can fly. Her mother, clearly with her own issues, worried that people will think her daughter mad. When looking after a teacher's young children, she becomes involved in their family tragedy, and vows to solve the mystery for them.

As Gwenni digs (to her mother's
(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
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-reads
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
Susan Roebuck
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Pixi Jo
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked Gwenni! (Loved...maybe not, but there was a whole double scoop of banana flavoured liking!)
She had a lovely way of viewing the world and was so engaging that I often read more than I planned to and, towards the end, just devoured the last of it whole, CHOMP!!

It's a strange story that has the whole sleepy air of a small, "backwards" town to it. It's like the very Welshy-Welshness of it seeped through the pages and gave it character.

I wish Catlin and her family had shown up more, but other

This book makes use of a classic literary technique: we are presented with an innocent's version of events and we, the (older) readers, infer from it something far darker. Sometimes this is used to great comic effect, but here evokes pity and sadness.

The blurb on the copy I picked up suggested a mystery novel, so it was a great surprise to me that the mystery
Ann Hill
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A lovely read, beautiful but also quite sad. Loved the Welsh setting and also loved the Toby jugs!
Rachael Stirling
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A gem of a book. A gentle yet thought-provoking story. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Roll
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit, it was the beautiful cover that first drew me to this book. The blurb sounded unusual so I was excited to give it a go. This book was not at all like I was expecting, but then maybe that was the author's intention. The plot is as much an exploration of mental illness as a a detective story - I won't say any more so as not to spoil it. It's clear to the reader from the start exactly what's happened to Ifan Evans, Gwenni's neighbour, so the 'detective' side of things is simply Gwenni f ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
'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
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a strong first novel, I was mesmerized by it. I love Gwenni, I saw so much in her that was me as a young girl, trying to make her way with a huge imagination, a life that sometimes needed escaping from, a highly sensitive personality (OH! I so related with her feelings about Corned Beef! I have grown to like it, but as a kid? GAG!) and not quite understanding the subtleties of the world and the people around her. She is moving from her quite literal and black and white unders
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it

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
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
This is a gorgeously written book set in a post-WWII (late 1950s) Welsh village. Gwenni is thirteen, and, along with her village, is on the cusp of dramatic changes. I loved the development of Gwenni’s character. She sees things differently from most, believing that she flies at night and can hear the rhythms of the earth turning. Her sense of smell is acute, she sees faces in the wall plaster and pain in the glass eyes of a dead fox stole. So innocent, imaginative, likable. The reader understan ...more
Pamela Scott
The Earth Hums in B Flat is a lovely book, magic, unforgettable, happy yet incredibly sad at times. I absolutely loved it. Gwenni is a brilliant character. She’s got her head in the clouds a lot and has a good heart. She was so real she almost stepped off the page. I think this is the first book I’ve read set in Wales. The author does a brilliant job of bringing a small Welsh town in the 1950’s to life. I felt like I was really there, with Gwenni trying to investigate a murder because she wants ...more
Geraldine O'Donnell
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was indeed a most compelling book.

How I envy the author her writing style, her beautiful use of language and her innate sense of story-telling.

There is a story line running through the book while it touches on several themes that shape our humanity: family life, growing up, mental health, community spirit, religion. The book is a rich and luxurious read which gathers pace and builds up dramatically.

Set in post-war Wales and told by an adolescent girl, the book was powerfully evocative of
Jul 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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Is this a good book club book? 5 34 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

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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.” 8 likes
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