Alarm Girl, by Hannah Vincent

Alarm Girl, by Hannah Vincent
Alarm Girl, by Hannah Vincent

I vividly remember the exotic places I went to as a child.

I vividly remember the exotic - to me, at least - places I went to as a child. The smells, the cooking, the markets...all of those memories were sharpened as I read this book.

Told by 11-year-old Indigo after the death of her mother, it is about her new place - along with her brother, Robin - in South Africa. They are sent to stay with their father and the sheer perceived glamour of the place is, at first, daunting to her.

Swinging on a tyre-swing in the foreign grounds is all she wants to do. At first.

Then her father’s new life gradually creeps up on her. His new girlfriend, the exotic Beautiful, and the houseboy Zami. Not to mention Tony, the pet bushpig, who I lost my heart to and longed to hear his hooves tip tapping across my floor.

But then I longed for a lot of things at 11 - as I do now. And this book has the wonderful ability to make you remember the sheer bloody awkwardness of being 11 and not quite knowing the social niceties of dealing with new people in your life.

The social unease of South Africa is vividly portrayed, but this is a book about finding your place in a family, or in a country.

There is also mention of a silk scarf with the word Paris on it, which had me wiping away a few tears. Vincent has written a cracking novel and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Hannah Vincent will be appearing at Bookish Supper Society on September 10, with William Nicholson and Mark Hayson. Tickets from or Brighton Dome box office: 01273 709709/box]