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Two stories run parallel in this first novel by Polly Clarke. Dora is an Pregnannt English writer transplanted to the west coast of Scotland with her architect husband. She finds the change very difficult and is left to cope with a premature birth and difficult neighbours without much support from her husband. She retreats mentally into a friendship with the shade of Wystan Auden who taught briefly at the local prep school in the 1930s and also struggled as an outsider and a homosexual in a society that criminalised being gay. Both suffer in hostile environments with little support and their very different lives have more in common that would appear at first.

Wonderfully atmospheric writing builds tension and foreboding as the novel progresses. A terrific read, highly recommended.

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