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One From the Archive: ‘The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls’ by Claire Legrand ****

Claire Legrand’s The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls begins in rather an intriguing way: ‘When Victoria Wright was twelve years old, she had precisely one friend’.  I liked our young protagonist from the start, mainly for her staunch determination in ensnaring her ‘one friend’: ‘Over the years, Victoria pushed herself into Lawrence’s life, and was pushed out of it when he decided that enough was enough, and then pushed herself back in, and finally they were really, truly friends, in an odd sort of way’.

‘The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls’ by Claire Legrand

Victoria is a privileged child, with a spotless bedroom and a schedule of activities hanging above her desk.  Her goal in life is to stay at the very top of her class, and to get the best grades which she can.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, an orphanage owned by the enigmatic Miss Cavendish, looms at the end of Victoria’s street.  As soon as it is introduced, Legrand builds the atmosphere marvellously.  Wonderful Gothic elements creep in – odd goings on which cannot really be explained, the Cavendish Home exuding rather a creepy air, Victoria’s friend Lawrence’s mysterious disappearance, and the strange behaviour of his parents, and then her own.  As soon as Victoria notices that more children around her have begun to slip away without a trace, she starts to investigate.  In her quest to find out what is wrong with the oddly behaving adults around her, Victoria enters The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls.  Here the stories converge.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls gave me quite the same feeling as Coraline did in its unsettling plot.  As with Coraline, the story is gripping and difficult to put down.  Legrand’s writing is marvellous, and in the way she crafts her plot and sentences, she allows the book to be just as well suited to a teenager as to an adult.  The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is deliciously, perfectly creepy, and comes highly recommended.

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Five Great… Novels (K-N)

I thought that I would make a series which lists five beautifully written and thought-provoking novels.  All have been picked at random, and are sorted by the initial of the author.  For each, I have copied the official blurb.  I’m sure that everyone will find something here that interests them.

1. All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman
“All Tom’s friends really are superheroes. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding the Perfectionist is hypnotized by her ex, Hypno, to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, the Perfectionist is sure that Tom has abandoned her, so she’s moving to Vancouver. She’ll use her superpowers to leave all the heartbreak behind. With no idea that Tom’s beside her, she boards the plane. Tom has, until they touch down, to convince her he’s there, or he loses her forever…This book is a wonderful, heartbreakingly funny tribute to love, sweet love.”

2. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
“Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster–lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.) But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all. If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria–even if it means getting a little messy.”

3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
“Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and there he dies suddenly. In almost no time at all, the new widow – Philip’s cousin Rachel – turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to the flame. And yet …might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death?”

4. The Fuck Up by Arthur Nersesian
“Arthur Nersesian’s underground literary treasure is an unforgettable slice of gritty New York City life…and the darkly hilarious odyssey of an anonymous slacker. He’s a perennial couch-surfer, an aspiring writer searching for himself, and he’s just trying to survive. But life has other things in store for the fuck-up. From being dumped by his girlfriend to getting fired for asking for a raise, from falling into a robbery to posing as a gay man to keep his job at a porn theatre, the fuck-up’s tragi-comedy is perfectly realised by Arthur Nersesian, who manages to create humour and suspense out of urban desperation. Written in a style compared to crossing J.D. Salinger with Irvine Welsh, Nersesian’s novel is totally absorbing.”

5. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
“A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness.”

Purchase from The Book Depository

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‘The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls’ by Claire Legrand ****

Claire Legrand’s The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls begins in rather an intriguing way: ‘When Victoria Wright was twelve years old, she had precisely one friend’.  I liked our young protagonist from the start, mainly for her staunch determination in ensnaring her ‘one friend’: ‘Over the years, Victoria pushed herself into Lawrence’s life, and was pushed out of it when he decided that enough was enough, and then pushed herself back in, and finally they were really, truly friends, in an odd sort of way’.

‘The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls’ by Claire Legrand

Victoria is a privileged child, with a spotless bedroom and a schedule of activities hanging above her desk.  Her goal in life is to stay at the very top of her class, and to get the best grades which she can.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, an orphanage owned by the enigmatic Miss Cavendish, looms at the end of Victoria’s street.  As soon as it is introduced, Legrand builds the atmosphere marvellously.  Wonderful Gothic elements creep in – odd goings on which cannot really be explained, the Cavendish Home exuding rather a creepy air, Victoria’s friend Lawrence’s mysterious disappearance, and the strange behaviour of his parents, and then her own.  As soon as Victoria notices that more children around her have begun to slip away without a trace, she starts to investigate.  In her quest to find out what is wrong with the oddly behaving adults around her, Victoria enters The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls.  Here the stories converge.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls gave me quite the same feeling as Coraline did in its unsettling plot.  As with Coraline, the story is gripping and difficult to put down.  Legrand’s writing is marvellous, and in the way she crafts her plot and sentences, she allows the book to be just as well suited to a teenager as to an adult.  The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is deliciously, perfectly creepy, and comes highly recommended.