Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Her Giant Octopus Moment - Kay Langdale

'There was always a child in the middle, trying to please everyone.'

Joan Simpson decides one day to become a surrogate mother for Ned and Elisabetta Beecham. Then part-way into the pregnancy, she decides she no longer wants to give her baby away. So she lies. 'Maybe if you buried something deep enough it need never come out.' Nearly eleven years later, Joan (now Joanie) and young Scout Simpson are spotted by someone who remembers Joan, and can't quite believe she is seeing Scout. Once Joanie becomes aware that her secret is out, she takes Scout on the run. Their lifestyle may not be 'normal' or stable, but she loves Scout and isn't that what counts? 

This is a lovely, touching read, with moments of emotional intensity and humour, and some great characters. Scout is the best by far, she is so lovely, such a great girl; intelligent, inquisitive, caring, and very strong. She is insightful about many things. I really liked Scout straight away, and felt so sad for her sometimes, for all the time she is on her own. She ponders what makes a home, is fascinated by and curious about learning things. One of the most moving scenes for me is when Scout is arranging her dolls house, the minute details she pays attention to.   Her mother Joanie is flawed but by no means heartless. She adores Scout, but selfishly she is glad ‘for a child who was resourceful, low-maintenance, and quick on the uptake.’, because this allows Joanie to live the unorthodox lifestyle she does.

The story explores a little beyond the main characters, to touch briefly at times on the thoughts of the peripheral players involved here; the Beechams themselves, with Elisabetta feeling ‘loss was a determined companion. It hunkered down for the long haul.’ The judge who oversees the case, the solicitor representing the Beechams, the social worker who will become involved; their thoughts are all briefly depicted which adds to the tale well. And the lovely creations Mr Mohammed and Mr Groves who, along with the mobile library, become the key parts of Scout's day-to-day life whilst in Birmingham. She forms unusual but touching and innocent friendships with people, and in doing so, she keeps her unusual daily life on an even keel, whilst learning all manner of things in her attempts to compensate herself for missing school. 

A moving, thought-provoking, character-led novel by a talented writer. 

Published by Hodder in the UK on 19th January 2012.



  1. I don't think I could ever be a surrogate and I wonder how many people change their mind like this or at least think of changing their mind?

    I'll look out for this book when it is published, thanks for the review.

  2. Hello. I enjoyed reading the review.

    I'm with the weekly book blog hop and I'm now a new follower. If you'd like to visit my cozy mystery review site, here is the link. Thanks.

  3. Fab review! Passing through for the blog hop :-)

    TToria @

  4. Sam I'm pretty sure I couldn't do that either. And I think there are probably a lot of doubts for those who do, even if they do go through with it. Thanks for visiting.

    Jenn thanks for hopping through and following. I will be sure to visit your site now, thanks.

    TToria thanks for visiting for the blog hop!

  5. This sounds delightful - and very thought provoking. Thank you. :)

  6. Thanks for your comment Sheryl, it is a good read and makes you think too.


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. It's great reading your comments and I really appreciate them :)