The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon


The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

The Last Word Review

Captivating, charming, intuitive. A debut novel that will sweep you off your feet and one that capture the hearts of its readers


It would be so easy for me to say here is one of the most eagerly anticipated debut novels of 2016. Well actually it is and what is more it is one of the best debut novels I can remember in a long time. Much praise has been heaped upon Joanna Cannon’s first novel and it stands up to the litmus test so early in the year of being one of the books of 2016 I have the feeling we will be talking about ‘Goats and Sheep’ a lot during the coming year.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is set in a typical English avenue during the long hot Summer months of 1976. Mrs Creasy has suddenly gone missing this is not like Mrs Creasy to just wander off, the curtains are twitching and Mr Creasy is seen wandering the streets looking for his missing wife.

What is needed here are two amateur sleuths to investigate, on the case come Grace and Tilley, who are Grace and Tilly? They are two ten-year-olds. But there is more to this than a hunt for the missing Mrs Creasy. They believe that God has the answer and as that God is everywhere he will know the whereabouts the missing Mrs Creasy.

When you add to the story that the Avenue is alive with ‘talk’ and that Mrs Creasy was friends with everyone and therefore knew all their secrets there are one or two neighbours who realise that she knew too much and are hoping their secrets have gone for good along with Mrs Creasy.

We have a story that moves along so beautifully you find yourself wishing the book would go one for much longer than the 464 pages it seems a long story but I promise you this will sweep you off your feet and will carry you along with it and then before you know it the story is over. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is like wrapping yourself in warm cosy duvet it just makes you feel warm or maybe it is just the thought of that hot Summer.

As with any neighbourhood there are always one or two that are seen as different to the rest even as far undesirable residents that do not fit into the Avenue. There are some here and you will get too meet them here. Grace and Tilly are two of the most memorable endearing characters I have read in a book for many years and a pure joy to behold.  I just loved the way Grace swept poor Tilly up at the start of the book as she had just moved in across the road. The two become friends and so the story begins a pure delight. It is not too often that a book comes along that fills your heart with joy. It is poignant and totally unforgettable. A story of secrets and lies also it is a story of coming of age, there is humour in the story but some elements are dark as we just do not know what secrets lie behind every front door. How the book got its title comes out through the story and I will not ruin that here, the reader can discover this for themselves. One thing is for sure, you will look at people from here and wonder ‘Goat or Sheep’

I was 14 in that Summer and the memories are as vivid today as if it was yesterday but the sheer beauty of the research by the author with a few added gems just helped me awaken more memories of those long hot shimmering days that seemed to last forever.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, a wonderful and unforgettable tale.


My thanks to Borough Press and to Ann Bissell for an advanced review copy ahead of publication.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep written by Joanna Cannon and is published on 28 January 2016 by The Borough Press.