A blog of endless curiosity
Guest blog by Call Me Ishmael Syndrome
I have always had a bit of a soft spot for debut novels and so was really excited to read Anna Lawrence Pietroni’s first novel Ruby’s Spoon.
In the industrial town of Cradle Cross thirteen-year-old orphan girl Ruby Tailor witnesses a white-haired woman from the coast arrive. Isa Fly is exotic, mysterious and captivating. Ruby (who works at the local fish and chip shop with her strange father-figure, Captin) dreams of disappearing across the water and into the wide world. To Ruby, Isa represents the key to a future she has so often dreamed about. Both Ruby and Captin are charmed by the magical Isa and soon befriend her.
But there is another enigmatic woman living in Cradle Cross. Truda Blick, an over-educated but lonely heiress whose button factory (once the hub of employment in Cradle Cross) is slowly failing. Ruby, Captain, and Truda welcome Isa into their lives but the townspeople (particularly the close-knit group of women in Cradle Cross) are increasingly suspicious of the beautiful Isa and her mysterious powers. It isn’t long before they are lableing her the town witch.
There is a delightful Dickensian flavor to this story mixed with an eclectic Jeanette Winterson-esque writing style. I loved the way the magic of the west midland countryside was mixed in with the soot and grime of a factory town. Using the broad Black Country dialect and rhythms in her language Pietroni grips the reader and drags them into Ruby’s unusual world.
“Ruby Spoon” is one of the strangest, but also most enchanting books I’ve read in a very long time.