'A terrific first novel. I found myself reading it compulsively' Carol Birch Janet Roberts and her brother James are at the mercy of their father's foul mood swings, especially on Wednesdays, when he returns from his third nightshift of the week, angry and red-eyed, looking for trouble. But they can always lose themselves in Janet's stories of ghosts and gypsies, or visit their boozy Aunt Net, who welcomes them with open arms as long as they make a visit to the off licence first. Then, in the course of one summer on their Oxford council estate, everything changes. A young girl is found murdered in the park near their house. James disappears, Aunt Net goes off the rails, and Janet's mother is hospitalised. Janet is left to fight her battles alone, with only her quick wits and vivid imagination to help her through.
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(198mm x 126mm x 18mm)
Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Millar's debut views a working-class family plagued by domestic violence through the gray-tinted glasses of a child who knows no other kind of life.With sparse simplicity, eight-year-old narrator Janet Roberts details a pivotal summer in the history of her dysfunctional kin. Her father (always referred to as Dick Roberts) liberally provides the violence that escalates over the course of each week. Fueled by long nights working at the auto factory and sleep-deprived days, he erupts into physical abuse by Wednesday. Mum scrubs and bleaches, but can't eradicate or even reveal the violence that holds her family prisoner in their pristine home. Alcoholic Aunty Net blots out the pain of losing her own children, taken away and placed in foster care. Nan, the matriarch, stoops to despicable tricks to control her daughters and grandchildren. Amid all this pain and heartache, Janet's 11-year-old brother James, the main target of his father's wrath, comes of age and perpetuates the cycle of domestic abuse. Sometimes the children find temporary respite at Aunty Net's chaotic house. Or, sequestered in their bedroom, they lose themselves in the fantastic stories that Janet tells. But the author soon drops this fantasy element to focus narrowly on a litany of abuse, police involvement and health problems. The murder of a young girl who had been Janet's friend catapults the family into a state of paranoia that at least brings clarity about their dreadful situation. This sets up a hopeful, but not fully believable, ending.Grimly monochromatic, the intended impact is muffled by an emotionally immature narrator and a stereotypical batch of dysfunctions. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Eloise Millar
Eloise Millar was born in Oxford and studied English at Cambridge University. She is currently at work on her second novel, Bleeding Heart Yard, for which she won an Arts Council grant, and which is set in seventeenth-century London. She lives in Oxford.