Deborah's Reviews > The Cellar

The Cellar by Minette Walters
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it was ok

On a positive note, Walters’ novella offers something very different.

The Songoli family migrated from western Africa to the UK (six or so years before, we gather) bringing orphaned Muna along for the ride.

We never really know Yetunde Songoli’s motivations for ‘rescuing’ (then) eight-year old Muna from an orphanage by posing as her aunt. She had two sons, so those with rose-coloured glasses could possibly believe Yetunde was keen for a daughter. The more cynical of us could think she planned from the get-go to rear a slave to be at her beck and call.

Six years later and Muna isn’t quite as dumb and naive as the Songolis believe. She may live in the cellar, never leave the house and suffer regular beatings and rape, but she’s learning English—awaiting the day she has the courage to tell someone she was kidnapped and is being held against her will.

The opportunity presents itself when the Songoli’s 10 year old son disappears. It’s Muna’s first experience of white people and she doesn’t quite know if she can trust the visiting police. She does however, finally have a way out of the cellar and starts playing the family members off against one another in a manipulative manner very much beyond her 14 years.

This novella didn’t grab me from the get-go, but I was interested because it’s subject matter is unusual and, well… quick icky.

There were some life lessons about reaping what we sow (etc), but I was left with the feeling that Walters wrote this book without knowing where she was going to take it.

Ultimately—along with almost every other commenter I’ve seen on Goodreads—I’m in agreement that Walters takes the novella on a tangent at the very end that really makes no sense. We’re left not knowing what happened…. in a confused (that-makes-no-sense) way, rather than in a wake-in-the-middle-of-the-night-wondering way.

Elements will play on my mind over coming days and perhaps even weeks but—while I don’t entirely regret the read—I’m glad I didn't invest more time in something which wasn’t (ultimately) very satisfying.

2-2.5 stars
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Reading Progress

June 5, 2015 – Started Reading
June 5, 2015 – Shelved
June 5, 2015 – Finished Reading

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