Caleb Krisp, Anyone But Ivy Pocket, Bloomsbury, 9 April 2015, 313pp., $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781408858639
Ivy is self-deluding, bad mannered and generally insufferable, as one of the other characters in this story remarks, but she does have much going for her. Her delusions enable her to deal with any crisis faced, usually at the expense of someone else’s discomfort; her rudeness provides the writer with some delicious insults; and everyone she meets soon forms an unfavourable opinion of her. Everyone, that is, except those who really wish her ill.
Ivy is a lady’s maid who is charged with taking a valuable jewel, the Clock Diamond, to Matilda on the occasion of her birthday ball. After promising to complete the task under the circumstances required, Ivy proceeds to reneg on every promise she has made, always justifying her betrayals one way or another. She becomes bosom pals with Geraldine Always, whom the reader soon spots as not-so-good, but Ivy believes is spotless. Eventually truth outs, and in a mixture of magic and realism the whole story of the Clock Diamond is revealed.
Krisp keeps Ivy’s adventures alive through witty, rude and outrageous dialogue. Ivy is awful and engaging, a twelve-year-old more like a terrible two-year-old. Miss Always is a sickening flatterer. Miss Frost, Matilda’s governess, is cold to the point of freezing. These are all caricatures, as is Ivy herself, but they have enough reality to make you want to find out about them. I suspect Ivy has a future, and if there is a second book, I want to read it.
reviewed by Stella Lees