Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson

Staff Review by Chris Hubbard

Joan G. Robinson’s haunting and dream-like novel for childen is finally back in print and ready to be discovered by a new generation of readers.

Anna is a young orphaned girl who lives a lonely solitary life with her Auntie. When doctors suggest she should move to the country to recuperate after an attack of asthma she is sent to Norfolk to live with the well meaning Mr and Mrs Pegg.  Anna’s overt shyness is mistaken for a difficult personality and she is forever chided for having an “ordinary face” and not making more of an effort to get along with people. While exploring  the marsh shores surrounding the village Anna meets the enigmatic Marnie and the two girls soon become friends. Anna is delighted to finally meet someone who not only wants to play and spend time with her but also completely understands her.  Marnie is best described as mysterious, living in what appears to be a large run-down house abandoned during the day but coming to life at night to reveal its occupants.

Anna soon finds all her time devoted to Marnie, for when the two girls are together they seem to share so much in common. But actually trying to locate Marnie is not always an easy task.  Marnie has a habit of not always turning up at pre-arranged times and sometimes a frustrated Anna finds herself falling asleep while waiting for her new friend to arrive. 

The joy and magic of this novel is wondering what is actually happening. Is Marnie real or imagined?  How much of what Anna sees is maybe a waking vision between dreams? Or is something more sinister about to occur?  Joan G. Robinson has created a wonderful, atmospheric classic that draws you in from the very first page. There is a  melancholic sadness to this book that springs forth from a remarkable depiction of time and childhood memory.

When Marnie Was There, by Joan G Robinson. Published by Harpercollins. ISBN:9780007591350 $14.99

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