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Ruby's Spoon

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Ruby's Spoon is a bold and bewitching debut set in the industrial Black Country of the 1930s. Anna Lawrence Pietroni's fiercely charismatic heroine blazes the arrival of a mesmerising new literary talent.

This is the tale of three women -- one witch, one mermaid and one missing -- and how Ruby was caught up in between.

When Isa Fly appears in the doorway of Captin Len's Frie
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 8th 2010 by Chatto & Windus (first published February 4th 2010)
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Debbie Zapata
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturdaymx

Edit on Jan 26 ~~
I have finished my re-read, Jan 17 to Jan 26 of 2017. This book will keep all five stars and my original gushy statement from 2014.

I don't want to say too much about it, but Ruby's Spoon covers two weeks in the life of Ruby Tailor, 13 years old and suddenly caught up in a swirl of unusual events surrounding the button factory that dominates her village's life, a woman who arrives on a mysterious mission, and Ruby's own tangled past. The book c
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second debut novel in a row that I have read this month, and I continue to be impressed. I bought Ruby’s Spoon because the author is due to speak at a local meet up group that I attend later this week, and I thought it would be nice to have read the book beforehand.
Set in the Black Country during the 1930’s Ruby’s Spoon is a kind of grown up fairy tale, telling the story of a lonely young girl while weaving together the folklore of witches, mermaids and the local superstitions of th
Mar 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
You really should meet Ruby.

You’ll need to go back in time, to the 1930s, and then to Cradle Cross, a small landlocked town in England’s Black Country. At least I think you do. Ruby’s story is set in a world that is a little like that, but also like something from a different world entirely.

Her story begins at her workplace – Captin’s Fried Fish bar. Ruby is peeling potatoes for chips when a stranger arrives. A very strange stranger. Miss Isa Fly, immediately recognisable thanks to her shock of
Sep 24, 2010 rated it liked it

In this, the author's debut novel, mermaids, myths and mystery are the order of the day. It is set in 1930s England, in the small town of Cradle Cross in the heart of the Black Country in the Midlands. Surrounded by canals, brimming over with superstition, Cradle Cross is like a prison for our narrator, 12 year old Ruby Abel Taylor. Ruby dreams of new horizons but her crabbed grandmother Annie has forbidden her to go near water after losing her husband and child to the sea so she's fated to lead
Who is Isa Fly and what is the peculiar power she seems to have over young Ruby Tailor, her friend the Captin and Truda Blick, last surviving owner of the local button factory in Cradle Cross, Black Country, England?

The close knit community, still reeling from the devastation of World War I, distrusts her as an unusual outsider (Isa is white haired, although she's only in her thirties, and has a cast over one eye.) Many come to see her as a witch. Motherless Ruby sees her as a chance to leave he
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely glad I read this. The young main character makes for a wonderful unfolding of mystery and intrigue as the reader draws conclusions from stories Ruby dismisses as grown-up prattle.

However, I did not read Ruby as 14. In my mind she was maybe 9-or-10 (especially with her references to "the other children".) Her bright-eyed wonder and willingness to believe in everything and everyone did not strike me as 14-year-old behavior.

The author also has a frustrating habit of pulling away from the
Alison Mercer
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really original book, a dark fairytale with shades of Annie Proulx and a powerfully claustrophobic sense of place. It creates its own world, where fantasy and reality are fused. So Ruby, the likeable heroine, has to put up with a rubbish dad and works in a fish and chip shop, but gets mixed up with characters out of the realm of magic, with unpredictable and sometimes violent results. Set in the Black Country in the 1930s, and written with an insider's ear for the rhythms of the local ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In some ways, the word choice and character dialect interfered with the story; in other ways, it enhanced it. Her words were sharp and clattered, her setting descriptions were pastoral and vintage. She evoked settings of ancient, half-forgotten tales and superstition, a crabbed and weathered village set in a rolling, rock-strewn hillsides, surrounded by murky and dangerous canals and dark pools... At times difficult to follow, but well worth it! The main character, Ruby, a bright 14 year old, re ...more
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Eh. It was alright. Really hard to read at first, since she writes the dialog phonetically & the accent is very heavy. I don't feel that I wated my time, but I wouldn't recommend it either.
Avid Series Reader
Ruby's Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni is a stand-alone mystery set in 1933 in Black Country, England. Thirteen-year-old Ruby lives in Cradle Cross with her grandmother Nan Annie, on the hillside above town. She helps lifelong family friend Captin in his fish-and-chips shop, and delivers meals to her father Jamie, who lives and works at his boat repair business on the canal. Nan Annie has instilled into Ruby a deep fear of crossing water, due to family members lost to drowning. Ruby doesn't play ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, this was "meh." At the very end when it all came together, it was surprising, but prior to that it dragged on a bit too much and didn't make enough sense for me to love it.
Zuzana Lechmanová Šamová
pre mňa zbytočne dlhá, ale záver pekný
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel belonging to the genre of magical realism, a genre I always find rather odd, was more interesting for me than is often the case for books of its kind. It was well written even down to the dialect spoken by the characters, but the characters themselves fell a little flat for me. I did like all the mysteries gradually being revealed throughout the story even though it was written in medias res, which annoys me every time I come across it. [Mini rant: I don't want to know even part of th ...more
Alberta Ross
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magic-realisim
What a treat this was.

Ruby’s Spoon is set in the Black Country, England, in the 1930s. To you from other climes do not let its English locale put you off. This is a story that could be placed in many divers’ places. The use of dialect has added to the atmosphere helping to paint a graphic picture of life in a particular location and a particular time. Pietroni has taken great pains to make it easy to decipher.

As a writer myself I found the fact that this was Pietroni’s debut novel a trifle dep
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
"handkerchiefs as tokens of remembrance to fold away in scented drawers or keep under their pillows. A simple ox-eye daisy chain at first,around the hem, that entwined the next year with green ivy, and the next with rosemary. Amongst themselves they called it "losslinen" I liked this novel, the word definitions at each chapter, the language : I doe, wi yo, yoom, weem,wi it...
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-book
Anna Pietroni is a good writer---in fact, she is so good that she writes the local lingo of her characters phonetically. Now, this can be a bit rough when you start a book----especially for a speed reader like me----I don't want to have to "sound" out all my conversations. But eventually you get used to it and just start to enjoy the story. And its a whopper of a story----a bit of in-breeding, I believe, as these folks are down-home and quite in-articulate on most levels, but still interesting a ...more
Ilyhana Kennedy
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It's fresh, original, quaint, and beautifully written.
The writing style invites the reader into the complex dynamics and the hidden mysteries of people who've lived all their lives in the same industrial village.
The story is well crafted and characters carefully developed. A sense of the mythical enriches the narrative. Throughout the story, the motif of a hook is artfully employed.
It's something of a clever ploy to orient a mystery tale from the perspective of a youn
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-finished
Why is it that books that are slow going most of the way through, hurry through a good ending? Does the author just get tired of writing and have this overwhelming feeling to get it over with?
Interesting book...I liked the vividness of the sense of time and place, the language. The characters went back and forth a bit too much for me at she good? is she bad? is she just spiteful? What I liked most was the story of the button factory... a company town on the outs and what that does to
Heather Knight
I read this book after reading The Washington Post review of it and being intrigued by it's dark references. But, in reality, I didn't find the book nearly so dark.

It's essentially a mystery, with a young girl struggling to find her own identity as well as that of a stranger in town. Of course, those identities end up entangled to Dickensian proportions.

Most interesting to me was the dialect the author creates. I'm not sure if she had something in mind when she was writing it, but to me it had
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book - loved the old 30's black country setting - loved the writing - loved the characters. Had my head spinning with tales of the sea, witches, and mermaids. I want to find a sea almanac now that I can fill with artwork and lists like Ruby did, because I want to spill out the art it has created in my head!

I had a bit of trouble with the written accents, and I was confused between the characters quite often (who was to who etc) but that would be better I think if I read it a second ti
Jun 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those books that I couldn't put down. It took me a little while to adjust to the dialect that she used for the dialogue, but I did eventually and it wasn't an issue. I really liked this book. I think I enjoyed the magical aspect of it a lot. Witches, mermaids, lost sisters, and small town mysteries apparently make for a pretty engrossing story -- who knew? I found myself thinking about this book for a while after I finished it. It's one of those books that I didn't want to end, y ...more
Cupcake Girl
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are aloot of reveiws on this book saying that people didn't like it and didn't finish it. I think to really enjoy it you have to read it in big chunks rather than a couple of minutes reading because it's quite hard to get into otherwise. If you do feel like you want to put it down just read enough so you know why it's called Ruby's spoon. Then I think you wont have missed out on anything good.
Esther Lee
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I met Pietroni at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010, she was lovely and so was this book. It was filled with mystery and charm I could not resist, and I loved every minute of reading Ruby's Spoon. The characters were rich, believable too that I really cared for them and because I love fantasies, I was desperate to know who the mermaid was. The twist was brilliant really. Fantastic book!
This was really interesting. A great look at a rural factory town in England post WWII. Strange at times, but all told from the perspective of a girl who is young for her age. I tried to see past her perceptions to what was really going on, but at the same time was held by the way she told the story. Not one of my favorite books, but well done.
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written, an unusual story, and I like how the mystery unfolds. I found the dialect annoying to read, and it was hard to follow because it involved a lot of terms either specific to boating or to the time period. It was hard to get upset over the missing losslinen when I didn't understand what it was.
Vicki Miller
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I really did like this book. Bit predictable plot but the language had me hooked. It is sad that Ruby does not seem to have any friends of her own age. This seems to heighten her need for family love. I found myself skipping bits to see what was going to happen, but then felt guilty and went back again, so it was a bit of a cha cha ride for me. Would certainly recommend this book to others
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I would give this 3.5 stars. I liked the story and the deep sense of place the author created. The character's accents were a little annoying (and hard to read at first), but so consistent that I started thinking and reading other parts in their voices. I wasn't thrilled by the convenient ending, but I would still recommend the book as a good read.
Apr 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
I did find this book hard to get into, partly because I had to get used to do the dialect. I enjoyed the story, but didn't find it an easy read. I persevered as I saw it is the author's first book & because it was given to me as a bookcrossing nss gift.

It will be released at the bookcrossing 2015 convention.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dit boek is ook een tegenvaller. Veel te veel details, waardoor ik helemaal niet in het verhaal kwam. Ik heb het verhaal ‘schuin’ gelezen, en door alleen de grote lijnen te lezen, merkte ik dat het verhaal leuk had kunnen zijn…
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“And looking back, Ruby knew this was when it started; the slow unraveling of all that she had held as sure and true.” 3 likes
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