Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?
In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.
As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…
Twelve years later, Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.
And atone for the part she played in it.
A Little Bird Told Me is Marianne Holmes’ debut novel.
A Note From the Publisher
If you enjoyed reading A Little Bird Told Me, we'd really appreciate seeing your honest review on Amazon. Thank you and happy reading, Agora Books.
Average rating from 223 members
Thanks to Agora Books and Netgalley for an early copy. I love the cover design on the book. For a debut novel, I find the plot to be sweet and interesting.
I was firstly drawn to the cover and then drawn to the intriguing plot, I really enjoyed reading this book.
I didn't want to put this book down,pretty much finished it in one sitting. There were times where I was frustrated as to how vague it was on what exactly happened... but as the book went further into the story,it made perfect sense. Both timelines had me gripped,and there was enough tension and menace to have me on edge of seat. Everything was rolled out nicely,with reveals perfectly paced. All good.
Read the entirety of this book this morning – a beautifully written literary mystery with a gorgeously immersive sense of place and time – anyone who ran wild through the Summers of the 70’s and 80’s will relate strongly to this story, although hopefully none of them had a Summer exactly like these… This is also a multi layered family drama, we watch through the eyes of young main protagonist Robyn as she tries to understand and interpret adult behaviour, her own secretive nature and sense of self playing a divisive part as events unfold. One of the huge strengths of this novel comes in the relationship between Robyn and her Brother Kit – older than her, with stronger memories of where they came from, their yin and yang is beautifully told and absolutely riveting. As is the mystery playing out on the page in front of the readers eyes…I won’t spoil it at all, this is a journey of a novel and as such best read cold. I loved it. Clever, a little haunting, often unexpected, author Marianne Holmes is a talent to watch – her use of language brings the lives of her characters and the paths they wander to vivid, wonderful life. Highly recommended.
Thank you for this early copy! I would recommend this to anyone who loves a well-written thriller. I will be checking out more from this author in the future!
What a great book!! It kept me engaged from the beginning until the end! I cannot wait to read more from this author.
Holmes’ debut novel tells the story of two summers from the perspective of Robyn. In the first, 1976, she’s a child and in the second, twelve years later, a young adult. From the outset, there’s a wonderful sense of mystery, and the threads are woven beautifully through the two timelines before being pulled together like magic at the end. While reading, I was plagued with questions: Where is Robyn’s mother? What happened to the man in the cowboy hat? Why have Robyn and her brother Kit come home after so many years? What exactly happened that summer to drive them away? Holmes strikes a fine balance with all of these mini mysteries, giving away enough to keep the reader interested but holding enough back to maintain suspense. The writing here is lyrical and deeply rooted in the senses. The characterisation is strong, and I enjoyed the sense of small-town claustrophobia that pervades. The mystery at the heart of the novel kept me turning the pages and led to a most satisfactory ending.
Holmes has written a great tale about a disfunctional family, set across the 70s and 80s; the latter being when siblings Kit and Robyn return to their old neighbourhood to seek answers. The plot ticked all the boxes of your standard dramatic fiction novel, and I enjoyed it a lot!
Couldn't put it down! A great concept, intriguing characters, kept me guessing! I loved it! I have already recommended it to friends!
This novel drew me in from start to finish. The sense of intrigue and evil wound it's way throughout, culminating in a finale that tied in the events in a sad albeit satisfactory manner. I would love to read a sequel, as I feel several of the characters have untold stories to tell. A fantastic debut novel! Many Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in advance of publication.
This was a beautifully written book with a great premise of a story. I love the way the authoress writes, and the story itself, I mean what actually happened (the mysterious events with mysterious background), was a very intriguing and exciting idea. The actual execution is not so perfect, though. For the first couple of chapters, I was very interested in finding out what was happening, what is it all about, but with time I started to get bored because everything was going so slowly. I like the atmosphere of suspense, and it was nicely created, but I felt like I knew too little and too much at the same time. The reveal of the 'big things', of the actual happenings, is dragged out until like 60-70% in the novel, and by the half it felt very tiring, because I still didn't know what exactly we are dealing with. On the other hand, I figured out the very basics of it, the nature of what happened very early, and way long before the protagonist, Robyn did. So though it is a very well thought-out mystery, at the end of the day what happened to me was that I was getting tired of Robyn finding out about things I (and everyone else in the book) already knew, while I was frustrated for the majority of the book about not getting enough clues about things that I felt like would matter more and would be more interesting. So even though the information and clues were gradually unfolded, I felt like I only got to know everything in the last chapters. I think this was because of the main character, Robyn. She was so clueless that it was crazy annoying! I get that she is a child (on one timeline in the story), and even on the other timeline she's only a young adult, but she simply can't add two plus two together. I like that we see the happenings through a child's eyes, this is a very interesting perspective, but many times I felt like her character's behavior is a little forced. She's not simply naive, innocent and confused, but seems like outright dumb, even for a 9 year-old. I don't dare to say the that she was a badly written character, because I'm not completely sure a child couldn't turn out this way, living the way she did, not being told about anything at all that's even a bit complicated. She was an annoying person nonetheless, though. The last 30% saved this book for me. Though the proportions (of where/when in the novel the story is told) are a bit off, this is a very good story and a great mystery in the background. I guessed the major plot twist at the end (I basically guessed everything), but it was far from being obvious, and it didn't take away much from the enjoyment. It was a clever plot twist, and looking back, I see how cleverly the hints were hidden. I'm sure many, or probably the majority of the readers will not see everything coming. I'm just not easy to surprise. :) The very ending (I'm thinking of the last page) left me a bit unfinished, I'm really keen to find out what happens next, and unfortunately, we don't find out about it, we only get to know everything that happened in the past. All in all, I would say this is a good first novel based on a great idea. I'm not sure this book is for everyone, but I would read another book by this author, because I feel like she would write amazing novels, given the chance of publishing more.
Absolutely loved this book. Unfortunately, I did have to put it down several times. This book keeps you guessing until the end. This book was not like any other story I have read before and the premise was very different. What I thought to be the truth was so far from it. Loved the characters and the fact that they were young when most of the incident took place and it is now them looking back as young adults. I also loved that it was the young adults that solved the mystery instead of the police. I would still love to know more of what happened to Wendy and Carol, along with Mickey. It was unclear if what happened to Mickey was a result of Ray. This is definitely a book I would recommend to my friends and family. Very quick read.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you were one half evil, would you want to know about the other half? A beautifully laid out mystery taking place during the summers of 1976 and 1988 with varied pace and vivid imagery, it was only the knowledge that the baby would be awake soon that had me putting this novel down; I could have easily devoured it in one sitting. A Little Bird Told Me centres around siblings Robyn and Kit, their encounter with a sinister stranger in 1976 and their prodigal return to put things right in 1988. That there was much intrigue was clear from the first chapter, and so I was hooked from the word go. Holmes’ ability to conjure up the heat and hues of the mid-70s using succinct descriptions made it easy to picture the scenes playing out before me, and she does not rely on continual cliffhangers to keep the reader engaged. The relationship between Robyn and her older brother is strong, realistic and serves to explain why so many secrets were kept from her - he had always known the truth would be more harmful to her than the lie, and so we are taken along on the, often frustrating, journey of a 9-year-old slowly realising the truth of her beginnings. Whilst I found this an enjoyable read with a twist I did not see coming - a rarity for someone as used to the well-worn tropes of mystery/thrillers - I did at times get frustrated with the pacing and how far into the novel we had to delve for any hint of the truth. I could have used a few more breadcrumbs along the way. I also feel the sense of Robyn as a town pariah upon her return in 1988 was never fully explained - as a child, she could not have been held responsible for anything that took place in the summer of 1976, surely? As a page turner, this delivered beautifully and I would highly recommend for anyone who is more patient when it comes to finding out twists than I am!
For a debut novel Marianne Holmes had set herself a very high standard to keep hitting but I feel (I know from one book) that she has a talent that will keep her publishers busy and rewarded for a long time. Plus her readers/fans on tender hooks for years to come This is a story about Robyn (little bird) and her brother Christopher (Kit) who return to their childhood home in 1988 to find the truth of the awful events that took place in the Heatwave of 1976. The chairs alternate between the two years and the suspense build with each chapter and you will not want to put this book down. Kit wants to protect his younger sister who just wants the truth and the home town folk don't seem over I to see them again apart from Eva their Mums best friend but s she is pregnant surprised to see her even if well I let you read about that rather than spoil the story but this is not a big part but there is so much here that it needs to be read in order like all good novels. The bad guys are nasty the hero and her brother are characters you want to succeed and will love and grow to understand more and more. The years may change people but the truth remains all the same. I'm grateful to Agora Books and NetGalley for this copy and hope you get this amazing book and enjoy it as much as I have our more even. Don't let the price fool you this is a top read and I'm sure you will have to pay a lot more for her next books.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this book at the beginning but by the end I was hooked. I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough. I had a feeling what the relationship would be for Jemima but the book just drew you in. You really feel for Robyn and Kit and the impossible situation everyone is in where they’re all trying to protect each other but not really protecting anyone. An excellent read
Intriguing and a very enjoyable mystery read, keeps you guessing until the end. I recommended this debut novel, a very interesting & well written book. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The plot and characters in this psychological thriller were intriguing and I found it a quick and page-turning read. At the start of the novel Christopher (Kit) and his younger sister Robyn arrive by train to somewhere that featured significantly in their past although it is some time before we know exactly why they are there. It is apparent that Robyn wants to find someone who has disappeared and clues as to who this might be pop up and then are burst like bubbles. The narrative flits back and forwards between 1976 and 1988. I am not sure why the author chose these two years as it could just as easily have been 2006 and 2018. In 1976 the siblings' mother, Jemima, offers shelter and assistance to women who are victims of domestic abuse and this causes resentment amongst some of the townspeople. This is developed as a key to the 1988 narrative with threats and violence never being far from the surface. All the characters seem to be either bullies, victims or both and this is perhaps one of the main themes of the book. As I wrote above I found this an easy and enjoyable read but there were aspects of the plot I felt were neither fully explained or developed. This is Marianne Homes' first novel and I would look out for further titles from her.
A very enjoyable story told through the eyes of a little girl, and as an adult 12 years later. The author’s characterisation and descriptive language is superb and I loved the little ladybird appearances through the book. The present tense narrative took a little getting used to, but just meant I got swept up in the story almost as if I was a spectator at their kitchen table. I didn’t see the twist at the end happening, which is always good. I devoured the book in a couple of days and would recommend.
This was a very good read. It was intriguing as the author told the story of Robyn and her brother and the circumstances of their lives and the town that didn't seem to be able to move on from past events. Robyn and her brother Kit always seemed to be running from danger and finding the secrets of their past and what a past that turned out to be. I liked how it moved from 1976 to 1988. It was only at the end after many twists and turns that the truth was revealed. I was captivated by the story Marianne Holmes presented us with. An excellent debut novel and a captivating read. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Robyn and her brother, Kit return to their old home after twelve years away. It has stood empty for all those years after a long hot summer, when there was a tension not only in the house but within the town. Who knows what happened that summer, who is not telling the truth and can Robyn lay rest to everything that has haunted her since the day they left.
Thanks to NetGalley for sharing this book. I loved the book. Will recommend this to anyone. I was unable to put down this book. I loved all the characters (except 2). After reading I was bit confused on the ending. At times I feel it's incomplete. But in fact, it was a beautiful way to end the book. Sometimes, its better not to know what had happened in the past and its better to let go. I would have preferred not to know what happened. Its so terrible. But Robyn was so brave to face it and find a solution. I enjoyed reading this book. I might modify the feedback later once my mind is settled with all the thoughts about Jemima, Robyn and Ray.
This was a great debut novel, had me gripped throughout and really would recommend it to anyone that likes a suspense filled book, I really hope the author writes a lot more, the characters were really intriguing and just brilliant.
This book is about a past that nobody wants to unravel including the town residents. It's a slow, suspenseful read. There's touching affection and intimacy between Robyn and her brother Christopher (aka Kit) after the trauma of their half-forgotten childhood. I love the way Kit, and some other characters refer to Robyn as "Litlle Bird," What the book portrays so well is the anguish youngsters feel trying to evaluate the words and actions of adults. I recall from my childhood overhearing fragmented conversations or seeing things I didn't understand. Children are super-sensitive to atmospheres. Throughout the book, there are mysterious one-liners and actions to interpret. What went on all those years ago when Kit and Robyn were young? Twelve years later Robyn is determined to discover the truth. Kit is less motivated, and Robyn is convinced he knows more than he says. The build-up of suspense is high and taken to a new level; the imagery is superb with its fascinating attention to detail. The trustworthiness of the town's characters is dubious, but Robyn is a feisty girl and determined to solve matters. Who is the man in the cowboy hat? What does he want? Thank you to NetGalley and Agora Books.
A Little Bird Told Me is Marianne Holmes' debut novel and it is truly stunning. The story is narrated by Robyn and switches between the summers of 1976 and 1988. Seeing the story unfold through the eyes of a child, one trying to understand the confusing behaviour of the adults around her, makes the mystery all the more haunting. The relationship between Robyn and her big brother Kit is one of the many strengths of this book. His memories of the events that led to them having to leave their home are much clearer than Robyn's, but he is unaware of the secrets and guilt that have preyed on her mind ever since. The writing is beautiful, and I found myself rereading paragraphs for the sheer joy of revisiting the images the words portrayed. The characters step off the page and draw you into their tale; I felt the children's apprehension, their fear as things spin out of control and their world turns upside down. An intriguing mystery that had me hooked from the beginning and guessing to the very last page. I'd like to thank Agora Books and Netgalley for the advance copy of this book.
Thank you to NetGalley, Marianne Holmes and Agora books for the chance to read an ARC of this novel. From the description - Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half? Review - It’s the summer of 1976. A heat wave means perfect weather for swimming at the Lido for 9 year old Robyn (Little Bird) and her brother Christopher (Kit). The only things spoiling their perfect summer is their Mum bringing home women in tears and the town gossip about it, the bullies that mercilessly tease her, the mysterious appearance of The Man in the Cowboy Hat. Then something happens that summer. Something that changes the course of Robyn and Kit’s lives forever. Something Robyn feels she must atone for before it’s too late….. The story switched between 1976 and 1988, when Robyn and Kit return to the village to solve the mysteries surrounding what happened and so Robyn can right her perceived wrongs. In ‘76 she is a child on the cusp of adolescence, trying to figure out adult secrets and behaviours while also learning who she is. Her sense of frustration and mistakes she makes as a result of childish naivete often left me wanting to shout at Robyn "don't tell him that" or clue her in but it was great for the story and you felt your heart break with hers as the adult Robyn is filled with deep regret for what those mistakes now mean. The bond between Kit and Robyn and the intricacies of sibling relationships, are pivotal to this story and are well written. The author weaves the layers of the story elegantly and reveals its secrets in piecemeal; teasing you with the promise of a revelation then ending prematurely so you're left trying to decipher it's meaning. I was so excited to be approved for this book. The premise was intriguing and I loved the fact that it was the chance to read a debut novel. There’s a thrill of the unknown, the possibility of finding a hidden gem of a story and a new voice who you just know you’ll follow the rest of their career. Just reading the introduction to the author started the book with a smile and the sense I was about to read something special. The letter from the publisher solidified those feelings and I wasn’t disappointed in hoping I’d find all those things. I will definitely be reading any future novels by this author. A wonderful book.
I really enjoyed this somewhat brutal story about small minded and violent people in the hot summer of 1976. Robyn and Kit are largely left to fend for themselves while their wayward Mum brings home waifs and strays. Something terrible happens which their older selvescome back to the same town to make sense of. It's very gripping.
This was a very interesting book, it definitely wasn't what I was expecting but that is why I like it! I loved the setting and I love it when characters grow throughout the book. I was able to really understand the main character and her families secrets.. Such a great read, moments of suspense as well!
A fantastic book with some twists and turns that I was not expecting. It is very well written and I would like to read more books by Maraianne Holmes in the future. The book was written from Robyn’s perspective and she immediately drew me into the story. What I really liked was how some of the book was set in 1976 and some in the future. I especially enjoyed reading about her childhood which in some ways related to my own when certain things were mentioned like the Lido and Spangles. Therefore it seemed to make it even more relevant to me. The underlying story kept me guessing all the way through and it wasn’t until right at the end of the book that I realised what had happened. It is a book about loss, love and bravery and through Robyn’s eyes I was able to see how her mother’s behaviour had influenced her and her brother Kit’s life and the sacrifices she made for them. It was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down until I had finished it. Thank you to Netgalley and Agora Books for letting me read this book.
I loved this book, I couldn't put it down! I loved the fact that it was written in two parts - the past and the present and the way that the story came together by reading each part. The storyline was well thought out and I was surprised that this was a debut novel as it really was a great read. I loved the characters in the book; Robyn (Little Bird) and her brother Kit (Christopher) are our two main ones but there are also some outside characters that we get to meet and know. I loved the ending and I would love it if there could be a sequel to it but I'm not sure if we'd be able to have one that would be as brilliant.
Although I felt I knew where this book was heading Holmes kept the questions coming, making this a must-read to the end. As they continued to unfold, the sequence of events seemed a little far-fetched to me until I remembered they were governed very much by the emotions and actions of a ten-year old child. Bearing this in mind the story-line was more believable and I very much wanted to discover both what had happened and what was subsequently still to take place. This has elements of mystery and intrigue interwoven with frustration and fear, making it a compelling read. However, I really felt the prologue was unnecessary - the opening of Chapter one is strong enough.
In the summer of ‘76, Robyn and Kit are carefree youngsters spending their days with friends. However a decision that their mother takes to help a young mum changes the way the locals view them, and a stranger bearing gifts is following Robyn. 12 years later and we know something big happened, Robyn and Kit, having left the small town they grew up in are back and Robyn wants answers. A Little Bird Told Me is beautifully written and whilst slow in parts I feel it’s worth persevering because the ending is incredibly though out and quite satisfying when you get there.
A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes hits the bookshelves next month. I enjoyed this mystery! The book follows 9 year old Robyn during a frustrating summer where she feels left in the dark by her family, and also her returning home years later to unravel what happened and try to find a missing person. Keep an eye out for this one.
Marianne Holmes has written a fascinating, mind bending, roller coaster of a story! I could not put down A Little Bird Told Me, and read it in 2 days. Siblings Kit and Robyn return to the town that holds all their family secrets, and all of their demons. This is a multi-layered story, with twists and turns all the way to the epilogue. As soon as you think you've figured something out, the story bends once again. I highly recommend this debut novel...read it on a rainy day, with a blanket...and a flashlight...and lock the door and windows.
would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this book a strange little book that is written with each chapter either being the past or the present..with hints of something happening....and as you progress through the story little titbits are released that keep you hooked until all is revealed in the final chapters... a believeable storyline and the characters are very well written...gonna keep an eye out for more of this authors work
An excellent debut novel from an obviously talented author. Robyn revists her former home & her past is slowly revealed. She not only has to remember what happened, but as the memory comes back she has to pay for her part in the events of that long ago summer. Very enjoyable, looking forward to more from this writer.
This is such a great book. I loved the story, a mystery, family secrets, a town that can't forget, all set in the 70's and 80's. The pace and the twist is just right. Really look forward to another one by this author.
An excellent story as to the twists and turns of family life and what happens when it all goes wrong... Thoroughly enjoyed this and couldn't put it down.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is a beautifully written murder mystery, brimming with nostalgic detail and lyrical, well chosen prose. The storyline sweeps effortlessly between two time lines as it twists and turns towards its highly emotional climax. Heartily recommend.
Enjoyed this book from start to the end, a real page turner, hard to put down. Well written with excellent plot.
This is a really compelling thriller about what happened to the main character's mother back in the summer of 1976, and how Robyn played a part in it. It's told through a mixture of present day and flashbacks, and it really captures the feeling of a small town in Britain, and what happens when you don't tell children the truth. The final twist took a bit of re-reading for me to straighten it all out, because it's not explicitly stated, but I didn't love the book any less for it. A great read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept me riveted from page 1 to the end. The story goes back and forth from past to present. The characters personalities from children to adults are very well developed. I look forward to reading other books by this author.
A story told through 2 timelines. I wasn't certain about this to begin with but gradually became engrossed by the mystery surrounding the 'Cowboy'. I did not guess the twist at the end of the story.
A cross-decade narrative tells the story of Robyn (the titular ‘Little Bird’) and her brother Kit, who as well as navigating adolescence are doing their best to comprehend a rather tumultuous home life. Like a retro Broadchurch, Marianne Holmes’ debut is an examination of an insular community- nervy, defensive and populated by flawed characters who may not be what they seem. It may not always fully realise the suspense it builds, but ‘A Little Bird Told Me’ is an accomplished novel that deserves praise.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This story is told from the point of view of Robyn as an adult, however, the storyline actually starts in the past when she was a young girl growing up with her brother, Kit, her mother and step-father. We get alternating chapters between past and present as the story builds. Back in the summer of 1977 during a record breaking heat wave, Robyn remembers her mother taking in a neighbor and her young son as her husband was physically violent and she had just been assaulted. The husband is held by the police and the town becomes divided over Robyn’s mother’s involvement in what was considered “a personal matter”. With the heat wave on, it also does not take a lot to escalate tensions. It also appears that Robyn’s mother and step-father are keeping secrets and with Robyn being young, there is a lot that she doesn’t understand due to her age. Years later we learn that Robyn’s mother disappeared that summer and now Robyn and Kit have come home to finally get some answers as to what happened all those summers ago. I really enjoyed this book – I found it intriguing and it held my attention all the way through. Highly recommend this gem of a book and I look forward to seeing other books in the future from this author.
What a beautiful debut novel. I love reading new authors and this one was so beautifully written, I enjoyed every word and was thoroughly immersed in the characters and settings. This book effortlessly switched between time zones and spun a picture in my mind easily of each. I loved this and have been recommending to everyone.
An enjoyable novel which had quite a few twists and turns didn't expect the ending at all some quite interesting characters and liked the way the story was told a good read
This novel is a powerful, well written first piece by a new author. I think this may be the best debut novel that I've read so far in 2018. Once I started the story, I could not put it down; I loved how the book was able to flow smoothly throughout the main character's childhood. It was able to able to dip in and out of the past and present that I was able to keep up with the story, even on those nights when I felt so tired I couldn't pay much attention to the storyline. I look forward to seeing more from this author.
Loved it , a beautifully well written suspense novel.. For a debut novel an amazing start cant wait to read more by this author. Already recommended to friends !
A Little Bird Told Me was an enjoyable read for me, it wasn’t particularly fast paced but it kept me intrigued all the way through. Robyn is the main character and it was nice to follow her on two separate timelines, those being the hot summer of 1976 and 1988. This book was a different read to what I usually read but it held my attention and the characters were likeable. It was a weird pleasure as well to read something that had no mobile phones, WiFi, internet, laptops, tablets etc in and I have to say I cant remember the last book I read that didn’t have any of that. It was interesting following Robyn’s journey and discovering that the people in the village never really forget or forgive anything. I would like to thank Netgalley and Agora Books for this ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.