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ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349007205

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New Zealand, 1909. After weeks at sea the new minister, Jack Mackenzie, arrives from Scotland with his unhappy wife and children in tow. A keen naturalist, he is more enthralled by the botanical – and carnal – delights of Dunedin than in the wellbeing of his flock.
In London, eighty years later, Jack Mackenzie’s descendants are middle-aged, searching for a way out of their loneliness. Olive, embittered with her loveless life, steals a baby from a crowded tube; William, distraught at the death of a pupil, abandons his job as headmaster and struggles to fill his empty days. Jay Pascal, a young New Zealand vagrant of mysterious parentage arrives in London, looking for a place where he might belong.

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An adroit novel that incisively but compassionately deploys a dysfunctional family with familiar problems - isolation, failed hopes, mutual deceit - in comic configurations
New York Times
What a superbly imaginative writer she is ... Mackay takes large risks, but when they come off the result is breathtaking
John Banville
She writes like an angel wielding a scalpel, dissecting her characters with sublime, sharp-edged prose
A rich feast to be enjoyed page by page as Mackay, in often dazzling prose, describes the hilarious antics of bibulous writers or, with moving lyricism, those 'surprised by joy'
She is a dazzling sort of a writer
Rachel Cooke
Shena Mackay notices a London that passes most writers by . . . Her London is not a convenient backdrop - it is the capital itself, vividly and freshly set down in glancing detail
Paul Bailey, Independent
Her prose is flawlessly seductive and comic, confidently witty and sensual
Julie Myerson, Independent on Sunday