Set in the infamous summer of 1976, England, ten year old Grace lives on a street rife with secrets, something that had culminated in disaster nine years previously. When Mrs Creasy goes missing, Grace and her friend Tilly take it upon themselves to investigate why. The local priest talks animatedly of God and how people are either goats (bad) or sheep (good). But are the neighbours goats or sheep? As the story unwinds, it becomes pretty apparent that (unsurprisingly) all is not as it seems.
I loved the way Joanna painted such a clear picture of each character- from brash Sheila Dakin, to forgetful Dorothy Forbes and the very odd Walter Bishop. Although I couldn’t personally identify with the descriptions of the vivid, sticky heat of 1976 as many others would, I do remember Angel Delight (although I preferred butterscotch), Sherbet Fountains and Wagon Wheels fondly from my childhood.
In terms of storytelling, for me she was spot on; with the perfect mix of laugh out loud humour (particularly with introduction of the Kapoor’s) and utter sadness. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated at the story (when I chatted to my book group, we all agreed that we could have done with a map of the street!) but it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. I’ve had a good think about how I would categorise The trouble with goats and sheep and I can’t. It has elements of both mystery and crime, but also the meatiness of a good general fiction book peppered with a bit of history. Whatever you want to call it, I’m really excited to see what she writes next.