Reading the publisher's blurb for this novel, I'm disappointed. It promises an 'exciting new departure' from Maggie O'Farrell's previous work, the best book you'll read all year, and so on. 'Exciting' is up to the reader to judge, and for those who love O'Farrell's writing, a departure is not necessarily something one would wish for. But for once the claims stand up. The novel is brilliant in every way.
Brought to Edinburgh from colonial India, Esme Lennox and her sister Kitty are pulled from the warm freedoms of childhood in a privileged world of ayahs and mimosas and thrown into a world of convention. Here, girls make 'good' marriages and passion is subsumed to propriety. Esme is