Whilst feasting on a mass of Sushi in Spokane, I had a great chat with my husband’s cousin, Sabby, about what books she has enjoyed reading recently. I wondered if there were any American authors I was missing out on. As a leaving gift to say thank you for hosting us on part of our American travels, I spent some time in a massive bookshop called Auties and bought her: The Blackthorn Key, A Murder Most Unladylike (although in the US it’s called Murder is Bad Manners) and 365 days of Wonder: Mr Browne’s precepts, as she said that she really like Wonder. I think that she was pleased with her gifts and I look forward to hearing what she thinks of them.
The first book that I purchased on advice from Sabby was Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. It was the second buy on my Kindl and I think that this is the book that sealed the deal on my new digital love – I rapidly flicked through the pages with ease or arm ache at night and my goodness it was a page turner!
This story follows a young girl, Theo who loses the one stable adult in her life, her Grandad Jack. She lives with her mother who locks herself away in her room, studying in a world of her own. Theo cares for her and struggles, understandably, to provide for them as a family. With Jack’s last breath, he tells Theo, ‘it’s under the egg, look under the egg.’ Chapter one ends by saying that what Jack had told her to find was the one thing that would change everything. Aaaand I was hooked.
Theo, on her quest to discover the truth and significance of what she found under the painting of an egg, makes an unlikely friend, Bodhi. Bodhi is also lonely and has a challenging family life. Her parents are both actors and she travels around the world with them and their entourage, substituting school life for independent study projects. Theo ends up providing Bodhi with the stimulus for her next project – discovering the truth about the painting.
I loved the chase in this book. The research that the girls undertake sucked me into wanting to become an expert in Renaissance art (as this is the time period in which the girls think that the painting was made.) I even went to the library when I got back home and got a book on this subject to see examples of this kind of art and try to learn about the symbols and patterns behind the pictures. I also had a look at Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s website for more information. But is the painting they discover what they think it is? Is it a Raphael? Are the people that they seek to find further knowledge from actually helping them, or do they have ulterior motives? What on earth was Jack doing with this painting in the first place and why was it painted over with an egg?
I would recommend this book to adults as well as children – think of it as a cross between the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Fatherland by Robert Harris and the film The Monuments Men. What a fantastic first book by Laura Marx Fitzgerald!
Another little feature of this book that I liked was the ‘Other books you may enjoy’ page at the beginning. It would be great if all authors did this to help fuel the momentum of moving onto another book that would be suitable if you liked theirs. One of the books on Fitzgerald’s list is the book that I am currently reading, Savvy by Ingrid Law. Sabby also recommended this book to me and it’s cracking! I shall review it once I have finished.
Check out a trailer for this book below.