My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rich, vivid storytelling; The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo is written with such power and verve that it made me greedy. I wanted more. Much more. Johnson’s novel is based on a real tale of a girl who was not herself. She adopted personas and identities and stories, really, in order to be somebody different and to make her life a little easier. This time, the girl chooses her new life after a dark and sharply horrific event makes her want to leave the last one behind. The blink of an eye, and the girl is the Lady Caraboo, a mysterious figure from a far away land. And with this new identity comes problems of its very own….
I’ve a lot of love for Johnson’s work, though I’ve not read nearly enough. (sidebar: Brave New Girl is a gorgeously rooted story of Hackney and the Olympics and one I do recommend most heartily). The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo has been on my to read list for a while, and it doesn’t disappoint. It opens with a twisty, fragmentary, glass-sharp sequence of scenes (persevere with this opening because it pays off) before the story settles into something quite remarkable.
It’s an intensely filmic story. If ever a story begged for visual adaptation, The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo does. Some of the sequences are wonderful and awful, and much of their impact comes from Johnson’s clean, genuine prose. She’s not afraid of giving the raw edge of life here, the shadow beneath the pretense, and some of the scenes are much better for it. Do note though, that there’s a scene at the start which might prove problematic for the younger scale of young adult; yet do equally note that this scene is intensely relevant for the narrative as it stands. As ever, read, and then make your call. This book is powerful and it tells a story that needs to be told.
I loved this. Johnson has this great gift of story and to be frank, one of the reasons that this is not a full five star rave is that I wanted more. Books like this make me so greedy.