For a moment everything was strange. And then it was awful, and it hasn't stopped being that way. Sometimes I can hardly breath; I can't fill my lungs. I can hear him crying and he won't go quiet...But deep beneath the earth lives a character who is at once a wild creature and also a member of the Flute family. It is his interaction with them that form the spine of this novel. This combination of fantasy and hard realism is my favorite aspect of Thursday's Child. Harnett also includes what I have come to recognize as her signature theme - the childhood experience of being the outcast. Not only does she tell of the pain of its exclusion, but also of the unique perspective it affords one. The place of exile often is a room with a view, and allows its inhabitant to develop powers of observation. I'll leave you with one of them, a portrait of behavior during the depression:
"But I'll tell you what I think's the worst thing, and it's to do with the ladies. Some of them, the only way they can hold their heads high when they've got nothing, no money, no milk for the baby, no husband worth having - the only way they can show the neighbors that they're still respectable people is to keep the house clean. The idea being, I suppose, that decent folk live in decent homes. And there's women going demented trying to make the house spotless, women who start to see dirt everywhere, as if it's got in under their eyes, women going slowly mad. The lucky ones get sent to the hospital but most of them aren't lucky. Most of them die jabbering on the kitchen floor, killing themselves to show they're upstanding. Dying for dirt in a dirty old world. It's funny, in a way: something went askew on the other side of the globe and now our mothers are losing their minds."
If you have yet to discover Sonya Hartnett, I recommend her novels highly. Here's my other post on this one as well as my posts on Surrender and What the Birds See.