Book Review: Legend Of The Marsh Girl

Where the Crawdads Sing is a novel written by Delia Owens and was first published in 2018.  It has garnered quite a bit of acclaim, which is deserved.

The story isn’t told in a very linear fashion, however it still is quite easy to follow.  It takes place in North Carolina in a place known as Barclay Cove.  In 1969, the body of the former high school star is discovered in the marsh.  Now, Owens takes the reader back to 1952 where the protagonist known as Kya is introduced.  Due to an abusive father, her family has disappeared leaving her to deal with the broken man all on her own.  When he doesn’t return home, Kya learns at too young of an age to fend for herself in the swamp.  She does meet some of the townspeople and falls in love for one.

Lots of themes are explored here.  Kya understandably has what we could call abandonment issues.  Her cleverness and determination are admirably presented here. A young boy teaches her to read which then sets her on a course where she could support herself quite effectively.

Prejudice is also explored here without Owens getting obnoxious about it.  Of course, it isn’t about racial prejudice but rather the judgments made on those that live a very different lifestyle.  Kya appears to others to be wild and uneducated, however she is considerably more savvy than the others are willing to acknowledge.

There are some pretty unexpected turns this novel takes, and Kya is a rather unique heroine.  Her story unfolds in chapters that alternate with those that chronicle the investigation into the death of the local jock.

There really is a lot to say here, but once again I am making an effort to avoid giving away too many spoilers.

Delia Owens’ own expertise in zoology is well utilized here, and she also proves to be more than a competent storyteller.  It’s not the sort of novel I tend to gravitate toward when left to my own devices, but I’m glad to have had this one suggested to me.

The next literary indulgence will be a return to 1921 England as Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge’s latest investigation delves into the world of horse racing as he reopens an old case.  Rutledge once again has to set aside the effects of his own trauma induced by his participation in the First World War as he looks into the matter of The Black Ascot by Charles Todd.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Legend Of The Marsh Girl

  1. Hi Peter,
    I love that you didn’t do “the spoiler”
    My take on it was of a person abandoned by humanity, who absorbed understanding from the teaming natural world of her marsh. Snubbed by the “townsfolk”, and left as a child to survive by her own devices, she developed a sophisticated world view unaffected by cultural bias and the incoherent nature of the contemporary zeitgeist.
    Delia Owens drags our psyche into the broader construct of her zoological realm, leading us somewhat beyond our ethnocentric world views into a zone where morality takes on a more universal perspective.


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