the tales of the marsh girl

“Instead, we labelled and rejected her because we thought she was different. But, ladies and gentlemen, did we exclude Miss Clark because she was different, or was she different because we excluded?”

Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

That’s the quote that stopped me in my tracks, reading New York Times best seller, Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, which has been compared to the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) finds a feather in Columbia Pictures’ WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. Source: Sony Pictures.

I picked up Where the Crawdads Sing at an airport bookstore, just before boarding my flight on a recent trip to France.

I’d seen it come up on Reese Witherspoon’s book club but wasn’t entirely convinced at first.

Did I really want to commit to a book while travelling … and wanting to simply relax … while on our trip to France?

It was a toss-up between Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (which, by the way, I also want to read – just have to get my hands on a copy) and Where the Crawdads Sing.

Ultimately, I chose ‘Crawdads’ and almost as soon as I started reading, I was hooked.

As soon as I found a spot at the crowded airport food court, while waiting for my flight, and started reading I was immediately drawn into the story and to the main character, Kya Clark – ‘the Marsh Girl’.

That’s how I know a book is going to be a good one! If it hooks me in from paragraph one.

And I basically couldn’t put it down the entire time we were in France.

I read it every chance I got, most notably while enjoying the jacuzzi with J, sun in our faces, Le Tour de France playing in the background.

“Let me know when they’re at 20km to go, and I’ll stop reading,” I’d say to J each day as we enjoyed what quickly became our afternoon ritual.

I became so enthralled by the story that I even bought a copy of the book in French from one of the bookstores in Rennes for J’s parents.

“You’ve got to read this book!” I proclaimed excitedly.

Proud moment: When J’s dad messaged saying he’d read the book after a day or so of our departure from France!

I also told my mum about it via WhatsApp and even sent her a link to a Polish translation in case she’d prefer to read it in Polish.  

Where the Crawdads Sing – Owens’ debut novel, which according to reports took almost a decade to write – is one of those books that completely captivated my imagination.

I couldn’t put it down and now I’m hoping that the movie, which came out earlier this month (in July), doesn’t disappoint.

Reese Witherspoon with Harris Dickinson, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Taylor John Smith on the set of Columbia Pictures’ WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. Source: Sony Pictures.
Although, from what I’ve read and heard so far, the movie is great and largely stays true to the book. Plus, its producers include Hello Sunshine – Reese Witherspoon’s company … and Reese Witherspoon produced it because she fell in love with the story while reading the book … so, the movie must be good … right? …. right?

“It just blew me away,” said Witherspoon in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning earlier this month, comparing the book to, To Kill a Mockingbird or “just any sort of classic southern literature”.

“And then she layers on this thriller element, there’s a murder … I would have loved to have met Kya,” laughed Witherspoon.   

Set in the 1950s and 60s in Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, is the captivating story of abandonment, loneliness, love and loss, heartbreak, and survival.

It’s a coming-of-age love story, an ode to the outdoors, a commentary on the parallels between nature and human behaviour, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama all encased neatly between the covers of one of the most gripping books I’ve read.

Alternating between the future and the past, it’s the story of ‘Marsh Girl’, Kya Clark, who is abandoned as a child and forced to survive on her own among the dangers of the wild marshland.  

She’s isolated, rejected by the townspeople who are haunted by rumours of the ‘Marsh Girl’, and forced to survive on her own.

Growing into a strong, sharp, resilient young woman but longing for human connection, as the story continues, Kya is soon drawn to two young men from the town.

And so, begins the journey into a new and startling world – love, romance, relationships, disappointment, and loss.

The romance drama takes a murder mystery twist when one of the boys is found dead, and Kya is almost immediately cast by the community as the main suspect.

And as a Sony Pictures description reads: “As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lay within the marsh.”

So … “Did we exclude Miss Kya because she was different, or was she different because she was excluded?”

A poignant question.

Almost like a mirror held up to society …

How often do we reject someone or look down on someone just because they seem different to our self-perceived norm? Because we think we are better? And what consequence does that have? What’s the ripple effect …?

Go read the book.

If you haven’t already.

I know you’ll love it.

And then go watch the movie.

x G.

Feature image: Sony Pictures

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