REVIEW: The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden

I absolutely loved this book as a child. I then loved the television series which was broadcast in 1976. You can actually find all six episodes on YouTube if you’re interested. It was called Kizzy when it was televised.

The Diddakoi tells the story of Kizzy a young girl who is half Romany and lives with her Romany grandmother in a caravan.

When Kizzy’s grandmother dies, no one knows what to do with the young girl. She is bullied at school, won’t co-operate with anyone because she wants to live on her own in a caravan with her horse and her only friends are an old Admiral whose land her and her grandmother were staying on, and his two male members of staff.

This is a timeless story of mistrust and treatment of people who are slightly different from the rest of society and it is told beautifully. It’s about how horrible kids can be to each other but also about how kind people can be. I got so wrapped up in this story as a child I desperately wanted to be a Romany and have been interested in Romany and Gypsy culture ever since. The Diddakoi won the Whitbread Children’s Book Award in 1972.

Rumer Godden (1907-1998) was a prolific author. She wrote 27 novels including Black Narcissus which was made into a film starring Deborah Kerr, 11 non-fiction books and 27 children’s books, translated two books of poetry by French poet Carmen Bernos de Gasztold and edited a further four volumes of poetry.

I’d like to read Black Narcissus – or any of her adult novels actually. I’ll have to see what I can find.

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