Emily O'Grady

Allen & Unwin
30 May 2023


Emily O'Grady

Three women. Three secrets. One weekend. Alison is an actress who no longer acts, Patrick a musician past his prime. The eccentric couple live an isolated, debauched existence in an old manor house in Scotland, a few miles outside their village. That is, until Patrick's teenage daughter, Neve, flees Australia to spend a year abroad with her doting, if unreliable, father, and Alison, the stepmother she barely knows.

On the weekend of Neve's eighteenth birthday, her father insists on a celebratory feast to mark her coming of age. Despite Neve's objections, her mother Shannon arrives in Scotland to join the celebrations. What none of them know is that Shannon has arrived with a hidden agenda that has the potential to shatter the delicate faade of the loving, if dysfunctional, family.

Feast is the story of three women connected beyond blood, and what happens when their darkest secrets are hauled into the light.


With her second book, Feast, Emily O’Grady has delivered a story of mystery: of the kind of people we become in order to keep our secrets hidden, and of what happens when the truth is finally unearthed.

Alison is a once-famous actress who now lives in Scotland with her partner, Patrick, a long-forgotten musician. Alison doesn’t like the company of others, preferring to isolate herself and go hunting in the woods like her father taught her to as a child. Even her relationship is isolating, the two of them living together as tolerated acquaintances rather than as a loving couple. She won’t even tell Patrick that she’s pregnant with his child.

So when Patrick’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, Neve, arrives from Australia, Alison is left unsure with what to do with another presence in the house. And as a party is planned for Neve’s upcoming 18th birthday, her mother (Patrick’s wife), Shannon, arrives unexpectedly in Scotland to celebrate with them. But as unexpected as it may seem at first, Shannon’s arrival may be more premeditated than it initially appeared. However she came to be there, the result is three women, full of secrets, and one weekend where everything is brought to the light.

Feast is an unsettling and gritty tale of a family that is connected by something far darker and thicker than blood; secrets and histories left unspoken, tied together by the façade of a loving, if perhaps dysfunctional, family. The complicated bonds between mothers and daughters are explored through O’Grady’s compelling yet exquisite prose, which leaves you feeling like you are being watched, but also like you are spying on the lives of these characters without their knowledge.

Set in the claustrophobic, eerie countryside of Scotland, surrounded by people that cannot be trusted, O’Grady orchestrates a tense, nail-biting atmosphere where the apprehension between the characters is raw and palpable.

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