Siblings Edie and Gnome delight in the streets of late nineteenth-century Manchester. They fight and argue as all siblings, but Edie can never resist Gnome’s outrageous schemes and always ends up climbing out of the bedroom window with him at night for adventures.
But as they get older and Gnome continues to revel in the night-time, Edie’s life is lived during the day. Gradually she forgets the brother she never sees as the demands of scraping a living become bigger. She wakes exhausted each morning with a sickening sense of unease and confusion.
But then she falls in love and Gnome reappears, jealous and wanting to destroy his sisters happiness.
Can they learn to live together in harmony?
This is an interesting novel and works on several different levels. The basics of it- writing, setting and character development Rosie Garland absolutely nails. To be honest I’ve never yet set foot in Manchester but I could feel the Edwardian version of the city around me all the way through. The characters are believable and face some very interesting challenges which they respond to in a way that feels natural.
But where things get really interesting is the actual story – there is more to Edie and Gnome than at first meets the eye and the novel explores gender and sexuality in an unusual way. There are a couple of places where it could have taken wrong turns and ended up exploiting those topics rather than exploring them. But each time it pushes towards the limits it pulls itself back, exposing naive opinions and then redressing them.
In the end it’s about more than girl versus boy and becomes a story about being honest with yourself. Every part of yourself. And of accepting the whole of others.
NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews.