When I read novels as good as these two, whether it be by chance, or the happy whim of the Editor, I thank God for the public libraries. It is only through these institutions that I shall be able to lay hands on the ten or so earlier novels which both these unfamiliar (to me at least) authors have written. If their previous books manifest the same humour, compassion and technical skill as these new works, then I shall be amazed that neither of them is better known.
Both Ms Lingard and Ms Friedman write about peculiar bounded worlds which are fascinating in themselves – Belfast and North London Jewry respectively. Their central characters are both women learning to accept their situations, and growing to a deeper understanding of the spirit of the laws and customs which shape