In the searing heat of the summer of 1976, David sets off to Skegness in search of work. He had never known his father, but had one photo of them together on the beach there. He soon lands himself a job in “entertainments” at one of the holiday camps. As the summer wears on, he starts seeing a man on a beach with a child, a man in a blue suit.
A darkened backstage is a place full of ghosts. You expect silence, but things creak.
There’s something about seeing things on a hot summer’s day on the beach that makes it more sinister. However I don’t think the fact the cover says it’s a ghost story needs to be taken literally. Maybe David did see a ghost, or maybe his mind is playing tricks on him as his suppressed memories try to break through.
Graham Joyce’s writing is so evocative, you can practically feel the oppressive heat of the holiday camp. The place is starting to fray around the edges, both in the physical sense and in the tired acts that no longer appeal to the young. It’s like a time warp. It’s strange to think the seaside camps were starting to fade back in the 70s considering they’ve managed to cling on and stay in business even now.
Long hours of the happy face. It’s dangerous. Doing a happy face when you really want to scream.
The plague of ladybirds is only a small part of the book. In fact it’s been released under the title The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit in the US (although that might be because they don’t know what ladybirds are). The plague did actually happens and 1976 is known as the year of the ladybird. So it’s about David experiences of that year, where reality became surreal.
If you’re looking for horror or a ghost story, you may be disappointed, but the writing is superb and it’s a wonderful peek into a different time and place. From the simple pleasures of a British seaside holiday to the uncomfortable presence of the National Front, gaining force amongst the working classes in the north, who felt immigrants were to blame for their hardships.
Book Source: Gift from Ellie @ Book Addicted Blonde
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