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Claire-Louise Bennett

A sharp, funny and eccentric debut by one of Britain’s most talented new voices.

Bennett’s debut is a slim volume that eschews traditional narrative conventions. It may be read as 20 mostly interlinked stories or as a novella fractured into twenty parts. It is narrated by a nameless woman living in a small cottage in rural Ireland. Its sections vary in length, with some as short as a few sentences, and each offers the reader insight into the quiet domestic existence of Bennett’s narrator. Instead of relating a straightforward narrative she progresses via digression: celebrating the arrangement of fruits and vegetables in bowls on the window-sill, lamenting the broken knobs on her kitchen’s mini-stove, pondering the deeper meaning of a novel about the last woman on Earth, recalling past sexual misadventures and experiments in gardening plots.

The reader inhabits the narrator’s consciousness, gradually creating a picture of a young woman of uncommon intelligence who has left the world of jobs and adult responsibility in the hope of recovering some more enchanting relation of self to world. The result is a series of tableaus - funny, acute, melancholy, misanthropic - whose charm and beauty lays in their oblique angle of approach.

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