Narrated by the central heroine, Gert, a curator in a northern museum, this story is interwoven with flashbacks to her eccentric and often surreal childhood. She had a hopelessly vain mother, a father constantly away at his African crocodile farm and a twin brother who becomes a Buddhist monk.
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Gert works in the Egyptian room at a museum. At 35 her life is in stasis. Her mother, whom she hasn't seen for years, writes her a letter asking for help and forgiveness. At work, she sees a young woman ballroom dancing alone in the empty cafeteria and it's love at first sight. How can she seduce this pale-faced beauty? She starts remembering her strange childhood, how her father left for a crocodile farm in Africa and her mother started drinking while Gert and her twin brother Frank floated about in their own psychic spheres. Her articulation of this lonely time releases her from alienation and the novel pushes forward to its moving resolution.
Darling's prose would make any poet jealous. The idiosyncrasies of Gert's world and imagination are drawn so precisely that we can almost smell the house in which she grew up, almost feel physically transported to the particular corners of her outsider perspective. It is a novel about mothers and lovers and the struggle to grow up, a novel of spirit and humour wrought out of the mini-tragedies of adolescence and family psycho-drama which provoke Gert's mid-thirties crisis and its exorcism. Julia Darling is a real writer. This is a debut that promises a great career. --Hannah GriffithsAbout the Author:
Julia Darling is a playwright, poet and short story writer who lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. Her stories have been published in many anthologies and collections, and stories from her first collection, Bloodlines, were serialized on Radio Four's Woman's Hour. She has also written plays and worked on documentaries for radio. In 1997 she received an Arts Council of England Writer's Award. She has two daughters.
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