The Spider Truces – Tom Connolly

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The Spider Truces is a coming-of-age novel set in rural Kent. That description would normally send me running in the opposite direction, but I was intrigued by the second thread of the book focusing on spiders. I was immediately pleased that I decided to give it a try as in the same way that The Behaviour of Moths (The Sister in the US) taught me about moths, this book proved to be a mine of interesting information about spiders.

Spiders in the bath are usually male house spiders that have fallen in while searching for females. By closing their book lungs and tracheae, they can survive in water for half an hour or more. Even spiders that appear quite dead can suddenly get up and walk when they dry out and open up their breathing systems again.

Unfortunately I found the spider facts so interesting that they started to overshadow the main plot.  I found the story of Ellis, growing up in the 1970s and 80s, too slow and gentle. It was beautifully written and the descriptions were incredibly vivid, but I became frustrated by the level of detail. I just wanted the pace to pick up and I’m afraid it never did.

Ellis and Denny would leave early for the Marsh, setting out when the village was a dark procession of cadaver houses and hollow-eyed windows. At shearing time, they heard the cries of ewes separated from their lambs reverberate across the flatlands and rise to them on the escarpment at Bilsington Monument. In midsummer, they listened to the hum of a light aircraft looping the loop over the Midley ruin. At dusk, Ellis saw smugglers out of the corner of his eye. They sought the eeriness of winter. The beauty of summer. The holiness of it all.

I also felt I was too young to appreciate much of this book. If you grew up in the 1960s or 70s (especially if it was in Kent) then I suspect that you’ll love reminiscing about many of the things mentioned.

I know that a lot of people will love this gentle, meandering story, but I only made it to the end because I loved the spider facts.

Recommended to those who love well-written, descriptive books – especially if you can remember the 1970s!


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14 Comments

  1. annie says:

    Well, I’m afraid to say that I do remember the 70s so perhaps I should try this. I think, given so many people’s reaction to spiders this is quite a brave thing to try and pull off. I know several readers who would run a mile sooner than even so much as open this. My only problem with them is when they walk over the sensors and set the burglar alarm off. The Spiders Beware!

    1. Jackie says:

      Annie, I can see how this book would scare a lot of people who dislike spiders. Luckily I have no fear of them – I found it fascinating to learn more about them.

      I hope those spiders keep away from your burglar alarm in future. :-)

      It sounds as though you might enjoy this book. Enjoy!

  2. Alex says:

    Now that I’m reading about bees, everyone else around me seems to also be reading about other insects, it’s like the pregnancy thing.

    Sorry that it was just a 3 1/2, hope (like you do as well, I know), it’ll be an exception!

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I love books about insects! It is great to know that everyone else is reading them too – I hadn’t noticed it.

      I’m hoping that I don’t reead many more 3.5 star reads, but I’m sure a few more will slip through my net. As long as my overall reading quality is improved I don’t mind too much – sometimes the average books produce the more interesting reviews as I have more to talk about.

  3. Dorte H says:

    The spiders sound interesting – what a pity they weren´t spicing a crime novel! :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Dorte, That is a great idea! I imagine that would work really well….

  4. Jenny says:

    Spiders don’t bother me — although my friend has two pet tarantulas I do not like to look at — but lots of talk about the holiness of nature does. :p I fear I am too indoorsy to appreciate this book’s prose.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I’m quite an outdoorsy person and it was too much for me!

  5. Sandy says:

    Not a big fan of spiders (but maybe if I understand them I will come to love them?), but yes I do very much remember the 70’s. That makes me sound old! I’m old!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, You’re not old! I’d remember the 1970s is I were just a few years older too :-)

  6. Helen says:

    I hate spiders so I should probably stay away from this book! It does sound beautifully written but I think the slow pace and detail combined with the spiders would be a problem for me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Helen, If you aren’t a fan of spiders then it is probably a good idea to stay away from this book. :-)

  7. I generally enjoy coming of age stories (although a little less the older I get), but I was not alive in the 1970’s and really dislike spiders. I do hope to get to The Sister sometime soon though!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I thought The Sister was very good – I hope that you enjoy it. I

      I’m finding coming-of-age stories getting more dull the older I get too. I far prefer books about the stage of life I’m in now – motherhood books are my favourite at the moment :-)

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