Cannon’s intense specificity captures a world in amber, permitting intimate access to the pantries, gardens and garages of Britain’s past ... The story is set in two decades, in 1967 and 1976. While each timeline features a disappearance — a baby and a middle-aged woman both go missing — these not-quite-palindromic years are less mirror images, more cause and effect ... Cannon is a mapmaker; her stories create an atlas. Through Tilly and Grace’s investigations, points are plotted ... Fear is contagious in small spaces. Common –– denominator fictions rule. Cannon’s book is so timely.
The English housing estate at the center of Joanna Cannon’s unique and unforgettable debut The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is a familiar-seeming 1970s suburb 'joined together by tedium and curiosity: passing other people’s misery around . . . like a parcel' ... Ms. Cannon’s craftily constructed puzzler moves between Grace’s first-person narrative and omniscient third-person observation of other citizens who prove emotionally stunted or morally weak ...a closed-community mystery not just in an Agatha Christie sense but in the more ambitious J.B. Priestley manner: a spiritual parable whose larger questions echo even after being answered.
This ambitious debut novel takes place on The Avenue, an ordinary suburban street, during the blistering summer of 1976. When Margaret Creasy, pensioner and wife, disappears her neighbours search for an answer ... Set against their fierce gossip is the voice of Grace, the exuberant and curious 10-year-old narrator, who sets out with her best friend Tilly on a quest in search of God. Through the eyes of Grace, Joanna Cannon discovers a sense of unbelonging in all of her characters and forces us to reflect on the readiness with which we default to blaming others.
It’s set in the famously hot summer of 1976 and narrated by 10-year-old Grace, and the first 30 or so pages skate along on her charm, her oblique moments of perception, and her humorous observations... Meanwhile, the central mystery of the novel is being set up – the disappearance of the neighbour Mrs Creasy. There are several other mysteries in this novel... At first the atmosphere is compelling, but with each change in point of view, and the introduction of yet another secret to be revealed, the impact of the book lessens ...this is a novel to be savoured rather than hurried through. It’s a book about a community and the way the members of that community collude with occasionally disturbing consequences: imagine Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, set in 1970s English suburbia.
...people are not so easily summed up in Joanna Cannon’s debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, a gentle story about the damage done by the secrets we keep and the judgments we make ...opens in the mid-1970s in a suburban British housing estate called the Avenue, on a blisteringly hot summer day. The disappearance of a local woman, Mrs. Creasy, has residents on high alert, and the rumors are flying. Grace, a precocious 10-year-old, and her best friend, Tilly, decide to investigate ...told from the points of view of the innocent but perceptive Grace and six of her neighbors... The Avenue, with its flawed but sympathetic characters living chockablock on the suburban street, is Cannon’s most successful creation, and one in which her insight into the problems of ordinary people is most persuasive. Part mystery, part coming-of-age novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep presents our complicated world with compassion and humor, seen through a child’s eyes.
The action centres on the baking summer of 1976 and while heatwaves have been the focus of other debuts – The Cement Garden most (in)famously – the weather here is skilfully promoted from backdrop to insidious personality...novel alternates between the perspectives of the avenue’s adult residents and the first-person narration of 10-year-old bright-spark Grace, whose precocity is robust enough to offset suspicions of feyness... Although the book’s messages – of acceptance, empathy and compassion – are unmistakable, it is never preachy; plot and structure are deftly, cleverly handled and descriptions combine delicacy with flair... With its combination of wit and heart, it’s easy to see why Cannon’s tale earned so many fans; with its implicit plea for understanding it will doubtless continue to add them in the months to come.
Cannon’s debut novel opens with the disappearance of the avenue’s friendliest resident, Mrs. Creasey ... As Grace and Tilly search, Cannon’s story is driven by the two girls intruding into an adult world, sometimes tentatively, sometimes brazenly. The novel is primarily set in the scorching summer of 1976, with flashbacks to events in 1967. The two threads merge to create an ominous, near-threatening aura, an oblique narrative haunted by things unsaid and shadowed references ... Ripe with symbolism and metaphor — hypocrisy and rationalization reign when Tilly discovers Drainpipe Jesus, an apparition — Cannon’s sometimes-amorphous novel is a subjective sociological study with the air of a cozy mystery ... A thoughtful tale of loyalty and friendship, family dynamics and human nature, and the cancer of buried truths.
In her astute, engaging debut, Cannon uses the New Testament parable of the title (in which Jesus separates the good and evil on Judgment Day) to illustrate, wryly and with pinpoint accuracy, the righteous indignation and small-mindedness of a group of gossipy English suburbanites ... Cannon, a psychiatrist, builds her narrative by slowly revealing backstories as the girls conduct their search, and the pieces of an entirely different sort of mystery than the one under investigation cleverly come together. This is an insightful, offbeat mystery.