‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ – Joanna Cannon

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep


Throughout this novel there are references to religion and how beliefs can shape our behaviour. The central idea of people being divided into goats and sheep, and the idea that anyone is in a position to decide who is who, was fascinating. Hearing some of the characters espouse their theories reveals much about them, and encourages us to consider our own response to the events and characters described.

‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ is a debut novel that is set in the summer of 1976. Ten year olds Grace and Tilly are curious about the world around them, and their curiosity is piqued when one of the neighbours goes missing. They are determined to be the ones to solve the mystery of what happened to Mrs Creasy, and so begins one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

This is not a book where much actually happens. We follow Grace on her investigation, and I loved her innocence as she observes the events happening around her. Seen through this child’s eyes, some of the absurdities of adult life are all too clearly highlighted.

Focusing on a fairly small cast of characters who live on The Avenue, Cannon slowly reveals all manner of hidden secrets. Cleverly interspersing past information with Grace’s investigations we slowly piece together some of the events that are alluded to throughout the novel, which all appear to play their part in the disappearance of Mrs Creasy.

Learning the hidden details of these characters’ lives was unsettling on more than one occasion. The Boo Radley of the novel – Walter Bishop – is a character that I felt deeply about. Though the setting is unashamedly of its time, the questions we are forced to ask about ourselves and our behaviour remain relevant for all time.