Within a page of starting Home Economics for Girls I had slowed down to approximately the reading speed I use for people like Kant and A.J. Ayer. Not that it's hard to follow, at all - but there is a level of enjoyment above which one just has to prolong the experience, and I didn't want to miss a syllable of this wonderful book.
Tabitha Tickham is a wonderful character, with something of the quality of a catherine wheel that's not been adequately nailed to the fence. You do not know where or how she will explode next. Despite this larger-than-life quality, she is eminently believable, as is her older sister, the serious and faintly pompous Violet. There's no false sentiment here - they are depicted with ruthless honesty and a deep understanding of what childhood is really like.
Violet may or may not be fat and smelly. We do not really know whether her little sister's gibes are fair comment, or merely the taunting of a pre-pubescent sibling. Similarly, we do not really know what Marcus looks like, and yet he is unmistakably there, a massive, sighing, philosophical houndish presence.
This was one of the things I particularly appreciated about Wright's work; very seldom is anything really described in any detail, yet the entire book has a richly visual quality. The reader is allowed to supply. To do this, and do it well, requires a sureness, a lightness of touch and a mastery of language that is rare in any case, but extremely rare in a first novel.
There's a madness to the sequence of events, a dreamlike inevitability that tells us that of course a cake left on the window sill to cool will be knocked out of window; what else?
Wright has demonstrated, not only a fertile brain and the ability to produce a richly satisfying story, but a command of his craft that makes every sentence a joy. I cannot wait for more.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)