The Illustrated Child is a story of the relationship between a father and his daughter. It isn’t always an easy one as Tobias Kemp and his nine year old daughter Romilly move into the ramshackle Braer House in a small Norfolk village. To Romilly it feels like there are ghosts there but even that does not phase her. It is an unconventional household with Tobias being a rather eccentric painter and Romilly’s mother living in an institution after a breakdown. She lives a rather wild existence befriending a village child called Stacey who is “homeschooled” but essentially just does as she likes.
Their life is turned upside down when Tobias publishes an illustrated children’s book featuring Romilly and her cat Monty. It becomes a huge success and soon they are besieged by treasure hunters who are convinced that Tobias has hidden messages in the book which will lead to big rewards.
The book follows their lives from Romilly aged 9 through to age 16. It is an unorthodox childhood and some people may be disturbed by the conditions that they are living in as well as some descriptions of animal torture. It also deals with issues such as mental health and dementia so it isn’t a fluffy relaxing read.
It has been a week since I finished The Illustrated Child and I’ve had to have a little time to mull it over. It is quite a hefty tome at 400 pages and I do have to confess that there was a point when I was considering not finishing it. It is a book that meanders through a timeline and for a little while in the middle of the book that meandering doesn’t feel like it is going anywhere. The end of the book is worth persevering for though and is a surprising outcome.
Supplied by Net Galley and HQ in exchange for an honest review.
UK Publication Date: Oct 29 2020. 400 pages.
Prolific reader, enthusiastic theatre and movie-goer and ex-Olivier Awards judge who spent twenty years working in the music industry in London. I love sharing my favourite books with friends - nearly always spoiler-free as I hate reading a synopsis of the whole book in other reviews.