Friday, 8 November 2013
A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines.
Life is tough and cheerless for Billy Casper, a disillusioned teenager growing up in a small Yorkshire mining town. Violence is commonplace and he is frequently cold and hungry. Yet he is determined to be a survivor and when he finds Kes, a kestrel hawk he discovers a passion in life.
Billy identifies with her proud silence and she inspired in him the trust and love that nothing else can. Intense and raw and bitingly honest, "A Kestrel For A Knave" was first published in 1968 and was also made into a highly acclaimed film, "Kes", directed by Ken Loach
This is the book that the film Kes was based on. I've seen the film many times over the years but I sadly can't remember a lot about it. When I was given the chance to read the book recently it was like a blast from the past. The book was well written and was very reminiscent of the years that it was set in, the late 60's.
The story takes place in one day and is told in real time with a series of flashbacks in time. It's a classic and a thought provoking slow burner.
Billy Casper is a loner and comes from a deprived family in the North. He is from a one parent family, he lives with his Mum and shares a bedroom with his brother Jud. As the day begins Billy has to do his paper round on foot due to his brother having taken his bike to go to work on.
A lot of the story takes place in and around his School. During one of his lessons he tells the class about his Kestrel and Mr Farthing his teacher becomes very interested in his pet.
Billy is the boy that is always the last to get picked for the team in sports and as some of the action takes place during a Football match this becomes quite integral to the story. Bullied by his team mates and games teacher you feel for him, as events spiral out of control and make him late visiting Kes.
One crucial event and a badly made judgement by Billy, become very instrumental to the outcome of the story.
If you've not read the book or watched the film I suggest that you do one or the other soon. Reading the book has made me want to watch the film again. 7/10.