Thursday 17 June 2021

The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig BLOG TOUR @FrancescaHaig @AllenandUnwinUK @RandomTTours #CookbookOfCommonPrayer


When Gill and Gabe's elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.

A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down - and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig was published on 3 June 2021 by Allen and Unwin. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 


by Francesca Haig


It’s Papabee who taught me to understand stories. My grandpa read me so many stories that I learned how they can come outside of their pages, until a story is something you can move around in, like a house, or a forest, all dark up above and sideways and down below too.

When I was small (even smaller than I am now), Papabee used to read me The Lorax, and the bit at the start went into my head and never came out.

If you want to hear the story of the Lorax, the book says, you have to go and ask the Onceler. The Onceler’s a sort of monster-person that you never even see properly – just a glimpse of green hands, or a peek of eyes through a window. From way up high in his creepy tower, he sends down a bucket on a rope, and the only way to hear the story is to put in exactly the right things: fifteen cents, one nail, and a snail shell. Not just any snail shell, either – it has to be from an ancient snail, a grandfather four times over.

Papabee used to read me The Lorax over and over – it was one of our very best books. So since all the bad things started happening, and our house started to fill up with stories that nobody will tell, I’ve known exactly what to do. The stories are building up, like the dust in Dougie and Sylvie’s bedrooms. Mum and Dad are stuck, and Sylvie’s stuck, and Dougie’s stuck too, in his own way. Our whole family’s stuck tight, and nothing can be fixed until they find a way to make their stories word-shaped.

And everyone’s so busy being stuck that nobody notices me at all any more. I’m only small, after all – eleven years old and mainly knees and elbows, and always in the way, like SausageDog.

I know it’s not easy to make people tell the truth. I’m still learning about how there are different kinds of truths: the right ones and the wrong ones. When our cat died, my teacher said, ‘I’m sure she’s gone to a better place.’ I said, ‘I think he’s in the freezer at the vet’s.’ That’s the wrong kind of truth, apparently, because Mrs Conway made me pick up rubbish in the playground at recess, for being rude.

But I know how to fix my family, and how to shake the stories loose. Because of The Lorax, and Papabee, I understand something about stories that the others don’t: if you want someone to tell you their story, you have to find the price, and pay it.

Francesca Haig is the author of the post-apocalyptic Fire Sermon trilogy (The Fire Sermon; The
Map of Bones; and The Forever Ship), translated into more than 20 languages.

Her latest novel, The Cookbook of Common Prayer, is published in June 2021 (UK; July 2021 for Australia and New Zealand).

Francesca gained her PhD from the University of Melbourne, and worked as an academic before becoming a full-time writer. Her poetry has been widely published. She grew up in Tasmania, and currently lives in London.

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