The wonderful people at Legend Press very kindly donated a set of Emma Claire Sweeney’s Owl Song At Dawn to Bury Libraries Reading Groups. After already being read and discussed by our virtual reading group – you can find their comments here – the set has now continued its journey by being the chosen book for Bury Readers Group in January.
When considering if this is a good book to be used by a reading group I think that everyone who attended the discussion – 18 people – would say a resounding “yes!”. There were so many different aspects to the story, the subject matter and the characters that contributed to a very lively and engrossing meeting; this was the first time the I have ever know us to overrun by almost fifteen minutes!
Scroll down to follow as the members of the Bury group share their own individual responses to the book. Here are just a few to get you started:
I found this book on the whole depressing but realistic. It described well the treatment of disability in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and how dreadful it was. I thought it was too ruminative and repetitive although the random speech of Edie, which she repeated over and over, was well portrayed. I found it interesting but it could have been shorter and snappier.
I did not anticipate that a story set in Morecambe about twins, one of whom had Down’s Syndrome, would be so compelling.
Owl Song at Dawn is set in the 1950s and today. The book reflected the feeling of people living in the 1950s towards people with learning disabilities and some scenes describing how Edie behaved and was treated were quite disturbing but vivid and evocative of the times.
Maeve, the ‘ clever’ twin, made all the wrong choices during her life until she finally realised to grasp what joy she could while she still had time.
Even In the present day, there seemed to be obstacles put on the way of Len and Steph, both with learning disabilities, when they wanted to get married.
Anyone who enjoys books about life, relationships, joy and sorrow will find this story fascinating and incredibly thought provoking and deeply moving. A real page turner too!!!
The novel reads like reality; it is a sensitive depiction of Maeve (who is almost 80) and of the significant others in her life. The author takes the reader into Mave’s mind through her voicing of memories – many to her absent twin sister. The bond between Maeve and her severely disabled twin spans all 8 decades of Maeve’s life and the author has clearly drawn on personal insights from her own life with an autistic twin.
Until, at the end of the story, she is given a chance, the dreams of university educated spinster Maeve ( running her late parents Morecambe guest house where she hosts and employs people with learning difficulties) have never been fulfilled.
In addition to her twin, a couple with Down’s Syndrome who are staying in her guest house feature prominently in the novel; again questions of love, life and society values are explored.
A moving story delivering powerful messages.
I look forward to reading and responding to more comments and opinions.
Nic (Reader Development Team)