Elusive Language of Ducks, The

White, Judith

  9 Reviews

It could be said that looking after a Muscovy duckling was just what Hannah needed after her mother's death. Nothing could compensate her for the loss she has just suffered, but having to care for the orphaned little creature would be a distraction from her grief. Who would have thought that her initial reluctance to do so would develop into such an obsession? Not her husband Simon for starters, or 'Ducko' would never have been introduced into the household.

Quirky and thoughtful, this story is at the same time both a gentle contemplation of grief and a wry exploration of human relationships.

Comments from Groups

What an original, creative novel! A very gifted writer who dealt with serious issues such as grief, loss and relationships, but with quirky touches of humour. It gave rise to plenty of animated discussion. Dunedin 029

We all loved this book - beautiful writing. Looking forward to reading more of her work. Auckland 255

The group was divided on this book. There were lots of underlying themes and interesting and complex relationships, but some felt it got lost and dragged on in the middle. Christchurch 312

What a weird and crazy book...the discussion was awesome! One member really liked it, some thought it ok, others awful. Most said they'd never read it again, but we agreed we would probably be talking about 'that duck book' in 10 years time, like we still talk about 'Life of Pi'. Thanks for choosing this book for us! We all laughed and agreed that there were quite a few things we learnt about ducks that we never knew before. Ashburton 016

An insightful book - humorous, clever and well written. Most became tired of the duck talk though. Christchurch 145

Everyone enjoyed this book, some loved it. All agreed the language was poetic, and contained profound observations about human nature and experiences. The duck was a great way to give insight into the main characters' thinking. Christchurch 240

We loved it - thoroughly enjoyed the quirkiness of the antics of the duck. We had a lively conversation , especially about Hannah, and feel that she gained some help in coming to terms with her mother's death by her association with the duck. Blenheim



Most of the group found this book very hard to get into and a bit depressing.
Loved it!
Quite a mixed reaction to this book...some members couldn't cope with all the "duck" references, others were more tolerant!!! All agreed the book was well-written, easy flowing style, and certainly raised some important issues.
CHCH 001
Interesting discussion - we all agreed that the writing was very good. The duck represented the inner workings of the woman's mind. She was trying to deal with grief, sadness and inner turmoil. The duck became an obsession. Sometimes very humorous, the best bits were when the woman was in conversation with the duck! We did not think that 'Ducko' went off with an Indian family!! Some loved it, some found it very disturbing.
50-50 split re enjoyment of the book - all agreed they loved the style of writing, chapter headings and lack of punctuation. Beautifully written with amazing perceptiveness and insight. Some were very annoyed with the duck and would have enjoyed less of him -others thought he was integral. Lots of discussion! re elderly, grief, loneliness, marriage and depression.
TAUR 015
Not a favourite. Some elements of the story just 'odd'. Nice style of writing with some eloquent passages. Would consider reading other work by Judith White, however.
We all enjoyed this book to a degree. Felt there was too much 'Ducko', and no one liked Mother being mixed in mash ( to end up as duck poo on the lawn!). Well-written with great descriptions. 2 people have recycled their down filled pillows thanks to Annabel! All liked Judith White's style, and were happy with the ending.
NELS 023
This book was a resounding success! The originality of the plot and skill of the writing was a winner...
AUCK 133
Poignant and heartfelt. We all felt for Hannah, and could relate to how pleasing it would be to have the pet duck to talk to. Her family were very unempathetic and should be ashamed!