A big thank you to Mel Sambells at Mirror Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for The Weight of Small Things by Julie Lancaster. When Mel sent out the initial email I was very intrigued by the premise of the story. But before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.
Nine-year-old Frankie Appleton likes to count gates.
One day she hopes to design the perfect gate – a gate to keep the bad things out.
Little does she know that the bad things have already got in.
Now her mother is dead, and the only other person with a house key has disappeared.
Frankie thinks she knows who it is. But first she has to prove it.
A delicately brutal exploration of what lies behind closed doors, and of the secrets and lies that form the fabric of every family, The Weight of Small Things is as charming as it is chilling.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him but there’s a man called Willard Wigan who produces the most incredible sculptures. They’re so tiny they fit on a pinhead or in the eye of a needle. To the naked eye they’re barely there but under a microscope there’s extraordinary detail. I very much had this in mind when I read The Weight of Small Things. This is a book that takes the lives of its characters and puts them under a microscope. Nothing is hidden, everything is laid bare and we see every tiny microscopic detail.
Frankie Appleton is a fairly precocious child. She has a wisdom beyond her years and a fascination for gates. But the battered gate leading to her house can’t keep out bad people and Frankie then has to face a life with no gates at all.
I don’t want to give too much away but Frankie and her mother, Peggy, are the main narrators of this very moving novel. It reminded me of Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson with Frankie taking a similar role to Ruby Lennox in narrating the family story. There are so many themes dealt with in this novel including postnatal depression and domestic abuse. But we don’t just hear from Frankie and Peggy. There are other characters’ stories to read, different patterns in this patchwork quilt of a book. The stories do link but I was left with more questions than answers. There was so much more I wanted to know.
Overall, this is a book that toyed with my emotions on many fronts. I was heartbroken for Frankie who never got the love she deserved from her mother. Peggy’s despair was very real and at times hard to read. Expect to be affected by this book, to be disquieted, to feel downright scared for Frankie. Expect the characters to stay with you for quite some time. Expect to be utterly amazed that this is a debut novel. I look forward to reading more from Julie Lancaster.
The e-book of The Weight of Small Things can be bought here.
The paperback will be available in August.
About the author
Julie Lancaster lives in Staffordshire where she was born. She worked in academic and public libraries – writing in her spare time. She has been a travel agent, a university admissions assistant and a volunteer counsellor. She loves true crime and crime fiction. This is her first novel.