Books Magazine

The Young Visiters – Daisy Ashford

By Hannahreadsstuff
Yup. I crochet what I read now.

Yup. I crochet what I read now.

And so onto my A Book in A Day challenge. For this I chose a book that has been sat on various shelves rather impatiently for a while now. Its one of those loaned books that, if I didn’t live with the owner, would be making me feel a bit prickly with shame at how long its presence has continued in my possession.

But, I have read it now and peace can be restored.

For those unfamiliar with this title I shall give you a little background. Daisy Ashford wrote this book at 9 years of age. Now, on the surface you could shrug a bit and go “well yes, impressive, but a lot of kiddywinks write little books at that age” and on the surface, a small 80 page odd story isn’t beyond the capacity of most children of around 10. However, at 9 I was writing about a gang of ducks called The Quackers who didn’t much like school but did like Santa, I wasn’t dissecting the early to late 90s society in which I found myself.

But this is exactly what Ashford does do; She has clearly cast her eye over the various society visitors to her family home and, knowingly or not, poured a massive bucket of scorn over them.

The story follows the relationships between Mr Salteena (“an elderly man of 42″) his ward Ethel and the budding affection she has for country gent Bernard Clark. It is your classic love triangle with added social climbing, basically what I think Jane Austen novels are in miniature.

Now, its hard to know if Ashford was a comical genius, knowingly decorating delicious and hilarious set pieces, or if her style of writing and choice of topics just happen to be translated by adults as satire and wisdom. But that’s really beside the point because this book IS hilarious and it IS satirical and it IS full of a whimsical wisdom (just like the Quackers Ducks series turned out to be full of existential crisis) and whether Ashford was reaching her tiny wee arm over her shoulder to give herself a pat on the back for each pithily observed interaction doesn’t matter. Because what it is is great.

This is a book about adults written by a child who was clearly jotting down what the world around her was dictating. Brilliantly all her spelling mistakes and grammatical hiccups have been left in (as I so often do here) and they only add to the charm of what is essentially a child describing, in that blunt way children do, what some adults got up to one time. And if you have ever asked a child “so what does mummy/daddy do all day?” you know the answer to this most mundane question can be hysterical and a little too close to the bone than said adult would like to admit.

But this is so much more than “kids say the funniest things” – its warm and rounded, touching and honest. I smiled from page one right through until the end (which, I might add, the conclusion of which I wouldn’t predict) and, 9 years old or not, as an author you can’t say fairer than that.

So that’s me with two ticks on the PopSugar But With ALL Female Writers List. Up next – A book written by someone under 30.

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