My SIL put this on my Recommended Reading list years ago. It’s the first in a series of books about the Casson family, hailing from England. That bit about England is supposed to be revealing. Does it mean anything to you? To me, it says “possibly off-beat, quirky, funny, and/or dark.” It’s the first three, but not the last.
The story is about Saffron, aka “Saffy,” who discovers at the age of eight that her three siblings, Cadmium (Caddy), Indigo, and Rose, are actually her cousins, and her mother, Eve, is really her aunt. Saffy’s own mother, Eve’s twin, died in a car crash when Saffy was three.
Though her siblings assure Saffy it makes no difference that she is adopted, and their actions bear this out, she can’t shake the feeling that she is different and doesn’t really belong.
When the kids’ grandfather dies, he leaves behind something for each of them: his house for Caddy, his car for Indigo, his fortune for Rose, and an angel for Saffy. The house and car are beyond use and repair, there’s not much money, and Saffy’s angel is a mystery, what it is and where it is. But it’s hers, all hers, and Saffy wants it, and her devoted siblings and new friend want it for her.
That sounds like the makings of a solid straightforward plot, but that’s misleading. In fact, Saffy’s Angel is an episodic novel told from an onmiscient point of view. Scenes of Caddy’s desperately needed and terrifyingly funny driving lessons, or Indigo’s determination to overcome fear by jumping out his window, or Rose’s deliberate and successful manipulation of their father to keep him out of the way do nothing to forward the plot I’ve described, but they allow us to get to know and love the Cassons who are part of Saffy’s search for her angel and her place in the family.
Actually, the episodic nature of the book suits the Casson family to a T. They live in a kind of chaos, all busy with their own odd pursuits, but the connections between them are solid. The strength of the book lies in the chaos, quirky characters, and the heartwarming kindness and support the kids exhibit toward one another.
Many times, good characters come across as cloying or flat. Not the Casson kids. Hmm…I want to think about that.
Your turn. What are you reading?