It isn’t immediately clear just how much of this book is autobiographical, or even semi-biographical, if any at all, but I would suspect there is a fair amount of personal truth and life story of the author, or perhaps one of her immediate ancestors, in this heartfelt and emotionally charged tale. I wouldn’t really call it a coming-of-age story, as the first-person narrator is a little young, at twelve, to be considered that, but it does bear all the hallmarks of these slice-of-life childhood memoirs, of growing up in post-WW2 middle America, of which I read so many. It is presented with a vivid, rustic palette, the scenery and milieu of Cape Cod broad and sweeping. The author puts a great deal of emotion into the descriptive detail – more than enough to be instrumental in my belief that there may be a sizeable margin of fact in her book.
The thin story itself isn’t really the focus; this book is all about the growth of the characters, the lessons learned by young Lily, in her innocence, when subjected to the complex world of the grown-ups around her. There is no real darkness in this book, like some of the type, but rather instead warmth. There is tragedy, but it isn’t laid on thick and not really anybody’s fault, but rather more subtle, in the form of lives not working out as the adults would hope; parents arguing about life decisions and finances; petty rivalries which result in nothing more productive than waste and regret. It is a child’s-eye view of the real world yet to be learnt by them. Whilst I wouldn’t say I was totally gripped by events, I don’t think that was Marcia Peck’s point; I genuinely felt for some of the characters in this book, especially Lily’s hardworking, long-suffering father, who really seems to be getting it from all angles, even though he tries his best to always do best for his family. That said, the premise shouldn’t be overlooked, and this book was definitely at its best when attention was paid to Lily’s music, her family’s devotion to it and her own progress in the art – sadly, these moments were few and far between, which is conspicuous, to be honest, considering the book’s title.
In many respects, it is clear to see that this was a tale close to the author’s heart, and that is where she writes it from. Her writing style is detailed and affectionate, drawing you into a big country setting, yet still somehow presenting the insular feeling of personal struggle. She is an eloquent, poetic writer, who does this well. That said, much of what was going on felt very subjective to read, and sometimes a touch of a struggle to keep with, with its obscure narrative; I found myself instead rather relying on bullet points. If you like these post-war, post-depression-era mock memoirs of growing up in blue-collar, rural America, this one will definitely hit the right notes for you, and I do recommend Marcia’s writing style for a comfy, cosy read.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: marcia-peck drama coming-of-age