By John Wyndham

Rating: 4 stars

Young Matthew is going through a phase of having an invisible friend, or so his parents think. Then he starts doing things that he couldn’t do before, such as counting in binary. And so the story of Chocky comes out – a person living in Matthew’s head who only he can hear.

Most of this book, told in the first person by Matthew’s father, is about parental worry. That of worrying if their child is normal, if he has psychiatric problems and of protecting him from unwanted fame. The worries and attitudes of the time shine through, particularly with Matthew’s mother, although the idea of a police surgeon accepting a glass of whisky while on duty also raised a smile.

Chocky herself remained an enigma for most of the book, with more becoming clear at the end. She’s not always the most likeable of characters, but she’s always interesting. It’s not, perhaps, the most action-laden book, but in some ways this adds to the tension as you wonder what the next episode of Chocky-inspired chaos will be. In the end it turns out to be a remarkably sedate story. Perhaps I might call it a ‘cosy catastrophe’ on a family scale, but I suspect that the Gore family might dispute the adjective ‘cosy’.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140031218
Publisher: Penguin
Year of publication: 1968

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