After their father dies in an accident, and their heavily pregnant mother slips into a depression, five–year old Pea, and her younger sister, Margot, are left to their own devices.
They play in the meadows surrounding their ramshackle farmhouse in southern France, climbing trees and catching scorpions. But after an encounter with a kindly neighbour, Claude, Pea is forced to face up to her family's secrets.
Claire King's debut novel is a vivid and poised piece of work. Though Pea's narration can be irritatingly fey, her voice is for the most part convincingly realised, marked by guileless descriptions (waves on the beach are "little white pups that lap my toes") and charming malapropisms ("wing turbines"). The narrative meanders somewhat, but the twist ending is genuinely affecting.