It is hard to believe that this summer’s hit film Where the Crawdads Sing was in fact the debut novel of writer Delia Owens.
First published in 2018 the book sold more than 4.5 million copies and was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club.
Set in 1950s America, the story follows the life of Kya Clark, or as she is known, the Marsh Girl.
We meet Kya as a child and follow her through a difficult upbringing, family trauma and her struggles growing up alone in the marshes of Barkley Cove, North Carolina.
Her story is told as flashbacks alongside the intertwining investigation into the death of local boy and town hero Chase Andrews.
The two storylines are unusual but believable. They are also heart-breaking and moving, dealing with everything from bigotry and racism to cruelty and what it truly is to be alone.
What makes this book stand above many I’ve read is Owen’s beautiful use of language and her detailed descriptions of nature and scenery which transport you to 1950s America instantly.
For me the ability to take the reader out of their lives and drop them somewhere entirely different is the true mark of a great author.
This book wasn’t at all what I expected, but a beautiful piece of literature that I devoured quickly and for a short while took me somewhere else. Unputdownable indeed and a great summer read.