Lavinia Greenlaw's mesmerising debut novel about growing up in the surreal banality of mid-1970s Essex. There's something about Mary George! '"And what happens if your face fits but you don't?" Tom enquired. "When you belong to it, the place holds you so tight, you might not notice how it squeezes."' Tom Hepple had to come back to Allnorthover. And there she was again, that girl who walked on water, out onto the new lake above his childhood home. The memory gushes painfully back for Tom, and its undertow carries the girl, Mary George, off. Mary is a strange and lovely creature, a young woman who seems to be more important to many of those in the village than she is to herself. Her importance comes to leak slowly into her life as the layers of history and memory, of secrets and misapprehensions, peel away. Lavinia Greenlaw puts before us the monochrome, immemorial middle England of the 1970s in all its dowdy glory, and has us see through young Mary's eyes how a seemingly static landscape is suddenly illuminated by the most vivid bursts of energy, colour and drama. Punk's torch flares into life and singes the fringes of England. Mary George bears witness and burns brighter still: she is more memorable than even the extraordinary events around her, and the reader will find it devastatingly hard to leave her company at the end of this exceptional debut.
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'A poet's eye clearly informs Greenlaw's beautifully observed portrait of Seventies provincial life. In prose layered like paint, Greenlaw conjures up the period through details that will strike endless chords with readers who grew up at that time!This is a suggestive, elusive novel, which achieves a magical effect by the gradual accumulation of images.' Vogue 'This is a terrific first novel, a meteorological force in its own right.' Evening Standard 'A composed and sensuous first novel.' Financial TImes 'A spacious and compassionate read.' Time Out 'What is most impressive, ultimately, is the strength and solidity of the house Greenlaw builds around the reader: every brick carefully aligned, necessary and true.' Independent on Sunday
About Lavinia Greenlaw
LAVINIA GREENLAW is the author of two books of poetry, Night Photograph (1993), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread and Forward awards, and A World Where News Travelled Slowly (1997), which won the Forward Prize. She is currently working at the Poetry Library, having previously been Writer-in-Residence at the Science Museum, at a law practice, and in several schools. Some of her poetry will be appearing on a set of stamps being issued in the summer of 2000 by the Royal Mail. She lives in north London, with her partner and daughter.
Mary George of Allnorthover by Lavinia Greenlaw
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