Birdseye by Maire Fisher

9781415207048Birdseye by Maire Fisher is part family drama, part coming of age story. Amelia the protagonist, aka Bird, is the youngest child in large family that lives in a small seaside town close to Cape Town. They live in a large mansion, called Marchbanks, which is owned by their grandmother. The somewhat happy, ordinary family spends their family time together listening to their parents, Orville and Annie, telling the story of when they met and fell in love.

Although we get to know the characters early on in the book, the grandmother remains an enigma for most of half the novel. “Ma Bess” who rules the household from the second floor where she lives. A cold person in every sense of the word, who shows no affection towards her child or grandchildren and despises her son in law.

Amelia adores her twin brothers, Oliver and Oscar, and when the twins go missing their family life, although not ideal, is shaken with trauma. Everyone in the family deals with the loss in their own way, except of course Ma Bess – she  believe that the twins got what they deserve. Really?

Amelia on the other hand, despite years having passed, still believes that her brothers are still alive. In fact, for years she has kept them alive, in her mind, by writing to them. When new evidence comes to light, Bird makes it her mission to find out the truth.

Amelia is truly a likeable character, in fact the entire family are. Everyone has their place in the book and adds dimension and insight into a family that is struggling to deal with loss and acceptance. However, I’m most definitely excluding the grandmother from my statement about the entire family being likeable. Ma Bess is impossible to like and even harder to understand. How is it that there can be so much hatred in one person? Ma Bess and the secrets behind her psychotic behavior adds a certain “darkness” to the novel and when they come to light, brings a satisfying end to the novel.

The investigation on the twins’ disappearance plays a role in the novel, of course, but as I’ve said in the beginning it’s mostly a family drama/coming of age story. A fast paced story about family, loss, secrets and tragedy that is worth a read.

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Disclaimer: I received this book from Randomhouse SA, for review consideration

  • This sounds like the kind of book I always enjoy. I love family sagas! Adding it to the tbr list.

    • I hope you can find the book on your side of the world! It’s an SA fiction title. Let me know what you think.

  • Ciska van der Lans

    Sounds like an interesting read and I love that cover!!

  • Lindsey Stefan

    This sounds really good. It reminds me a bit of Stewart O’Nan’s Songs for the Missing.

  • When I read the first paragraph I got confused because I read a book called Nest by Esther Ehrlich about a young girl who goes by “Chirp” and they live in Cape Cod that was part family drama, part coming of age. I was like – wait, is this the same book but they changed details before publishing? Then I realized the rest of the book was different but I did a double take! lol Sounds like an interesting story. I wonder what happened to the twins and if keeping them alive in her mind is a good thing/harmful thing for her.

    • Haha! I’ll check that title out. What happened to the twins is indeed sad and I do think that keeping them alive in her mind wasn’t exactly a good thing for her…

  • Ali

    Another one I think I should add to my list.