Green has always lived at Foxlowe. The crumbling old house is a little scary, but the fields are beautiful. Nine adults and three children live at Foxlowe. The founders, Richard, whose house it is, Freya, the leader, and Libby, are the main adults. Freya is the most powerful, meting out punishment and keeping the Family together.
Inside the Family, she tells them, life is safe. Outside is the Bad. People outside are corrupted by money and power, not in the family. Green and the other children know no other world. Theirs is a world steeped in Family and the trappings of pagan religion.
But the Family crumbles. In the second part of the novel, Green is out in the world struggling to understand how very different it is. Since she can barely read or write, it’s a significant shock to be outside. At the very end, we find out what happened to drive the Family apart. It’s a horrifying story.
The book is filled with strange settings, child abuse, and pagan religion. For the first part of the book the child’s view and the eerie setting suck you in, but when Green joins the world outside Foxlowe, the story loses some of it’s charm.
I found the book difficult to read. Because the first half of the novel is told through the eyes of a young child, it is told in simple sentences and some of the words don’t make a great deal of sense until you become familiar with the jargon of the commune. For me, the intimations of child abuse were difficult to read. These children were completely under the adult’s influence with no outside interference. Punishment was easy and there as no accounting.
The underlying story of how the mind of a child is affected by it’s up-bringing is interesting. There is a great deal to discuss within the confines of the novel. I think it would make an excellent choice for a reading group.
I received this book from Penguin for this review.