Saturday 17 July 2021

BLOG TOUR: All the Fun of the Fair - Caroline Hulse

The Fair is the only good thing that happens every year. And Fiona Larson is the only person in town who's never been.

She's pretended to go - but she's never been allowed. Because, before Fiona was even born, her sister died there.

This year, everything will be different.

Fiona is about to turn twelve - older than her sister was. This summer, Fiona will save some money, make new friends, and finally have some fun at The Fair.

But what she'll actually do is:
- Find a mysterious bag in a bush
- Spy on everyone
- Lose her only friend
- Make a lot of lists
- Learn the truth about what happened at The Fair...

Fresh and hilarious, All the Fun of the Fair is a deeply poignant coming-of-age novel from sensational talent Caroline Hulse.

What did I think?

I was drawn to All the Fun of the Fair not only by the mystery of what happened to Fiona's sister but by the allure of Fiona herself and the intriguing setting of 1996.  Now to an oldie like me that doesn't seem so long ago and I had to pinch myself when I realised that it was actually 25 years ago!  I may have been a lot older than Fiona in '96 but Caroline Hulse's wonderfully nostalgic novel transported me back to my own schooldays.  I'd totally forgotten about those paper fortune tellers - we were totally obsessed with them back in the day.

There's something so magical about the fair coming to town but for 11 year-old Fiona Larson it is a complete mystery.  Fiona is not allowed to go to the fair because her sister died there.  A sister who was perfect in every way and still has a bigger bedroom than Fiona.  Oh you can't help but have all the feels for Fiona, she is living in her sister's shadow and her parents just can't see it.  Fiona is so inquisitive and she is naturally curious about her sister's death so, with the help of The Junior Spy's Secret Handbook, she starts to investigate what actually happened all those years ago at the fair.

It just shows you that keeping secrets, even when you think it's for the best, can cause assumptions to be made that morph the secret into something even more frightening.  Left to run wild, there is no end to the lengths your imagination can go especially when you're a child.  Rather interestingly, that's not the only secret that Fiona's parents are hiding and it's something that's hinted at throughout the novel but possibly won't be picked up by all readers and I'm saying no more about it in case Fiona returns with a sequel (and I do hope she does).

Caroline Hulse's wonderful writing really brings Fiona Larson to life and gives her such a distinctive and unusual voice.  I loved Fiona's list making and her inventive way of making money to go to the fair which had me almost crying with laughter.  I felt quite sorry for Fiona's parents at times as their grief is never-ending and I can't imagine how devastating it must be to lose a child.  Fiona has such a lot to deal with in her young life, you can't help but take her to your heart.

All the Fun of the Fair is a quirky, nostalgic and incredibly poignant read; I won't be forgetting Fiona Larson in a hurry.  It's unusual, funny and charming and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; all opinions are my own.

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