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The White Bird Passes by Jessie Kesson
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The White Bird Passes

by Jessie Kesson

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I've just re-read this and it's as poignant and beautiful a book as I remember. Based on the reality of Jessie Kesson's upbringing in the 1920s in the poverty yet vibrant communal life of one of the historic closes of the cathedral city of Elgin in Morayshire in Scotland, it's ahead of its time in the impressionistic writing style and packs a real emotional punch. ( )
  MaggieCraig | Nov 5, 2011 |
While I liked this little story a great deal, I have difficulty with the fact that Jessie Kesson does not grow her characters. They are simply there and the story goes.
The book is about a little girl, Janie, who lives in a very poor section of town with her mother. There are very few men and most of the women are prostitutes and the children pretty much raise themselves. There are State Dept persons who go around to check on the living conditions, the health conditions, etc., of the residents of the area and if the children are not being cared for as the politicos think agreeable they are removed from the home/hovel and taken to an orphanage, which is what happens to our Janie.
Janie is a very interesting and well rounded character whereas I found most of the characters to be flat. (For me, this is a Kesson hitch.) Janie is very resilient and thinks quick on her feet. But the story ends when she is released from the orphanage. I would have loved to found out what future escapades awaited our main character and it may be that there is a sequel to The White Bird Passes. I hope so. I gave it 3 1/2 stars out of 5 and guardedly recommend it. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Sep 1, 2011 |
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Jessie Kesson, one of Scotland's best-loved writers, found immediate acclaim and popularity with The White Bird Passes, the story of Janie, a young girl who grows up in the crowded city backstreets. Her beloved mother, Liza has 'gone to the bad', her father has gone for good. This is the exuberant, unforgettable portrait of Janie's childhood, richly peopled by characters who live on the margins and by the Cruelty Man, the Rent Man and the orphanage which haunts her dreams. It is the triumphant, poetic tale of a spirit that poverty cannot diminish.
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