It is the summer of 1976, and Mrs Creasy is missing. The residents of The Avenue all have their own ideas about what happened, and Grace, a ten year old girl who lives at Number 4 is no different. Alongside her best friend Tilly, she speaks to everyone on The Avenue to try and find out where Mrs Creasy went, why she disappeared and when she will come back. As their investigations take hold, they uncover secrets that their neighbours have fought to keep undiscovered for years.
The majority of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is narrated in first person by Grace, with the occasional chapter in third person (particularly chapters that flash back to 1967) as the reader learns more about the people who live on The Avenue. I found this to be an effective method of narration, as the sections in first person give the reader further insight into Grace's character, providing the novel with elements of humour and innocence, which make her more endearing, and the sections in third person hint at what is to follow, thus giving the novel a suspenseful feel. This makes it very compelling.
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep contains some beautiful language, particularly the use of figurative devices, such as simile and personification. The descriptions, which when narrated by Grace emphasise her childlike perspective, are very detailed and create a vivid sense of time and place. I felt this was very important for this book, as the descriptions helped to bring me in to an environment with which I (and I imagine several other readers) were not immediately familiar, given that the book is set before I was born, when the trends, beliefs and ways of life were often very different.
As the novel reaches its conclusion, it becomes clear that each member of the neighbourhood has a secret. Although this makes the novel more compelling as the secrets unravel, I felt that the ending of the novel was slightly rushed, which made it difficult to fully appreciate the consequences of each discovery. I would have appreciated more exploration of the emerging issues, and do not feel that the book would have been spoiled by the extra length that this would have necessitated, as I loved it and did not want to put it down!
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is available from Amazon.