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A Perfect Explanation: Longlisted for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2019 Paperback – 15 Mar 2019
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Eleanor Anstruther’s superb debut, A Perfect Explanation (Salt, March), the fictionalised story of the granddaughter of the eighth Duke of Argyll, who sold her son to her sister for £500.Author: Alex Preston Source: The Observer
I have read many stories of minor historical figures and the troubles they encounter despite their privileged existences. This tale offers much more depth and nuance than is typical. The writing pulls the reader under the skin of each character from where they may view the pain of selfish frustrations. There are truly shocking moments yet they are never sensationalised. Rather there is a balance in the telling that allows the reader to form their own opinions. The complexities of family relationships and the pressures these create offer much to consider. A riveting tale of grown children damaged by the relentless actions of their entitled parents. Well paced and skilfully written, this is a haunting, recommended read.Author: Jackie Law Source: neverimitate
A Perfect Explanation is an extremely engaging story of the bizarre culture of the aristocracy, where love is secondary to money, and the cycle of maternal deprivation across generations is difficult to escape.Source: Annecdotal
The book is both a revelation but also deeply poignant as mental illness estranges Enid and her options narrow … Using letters and archival evidence, and acknowledging her debt to her father 'for giving me this story in the first place', Eleanor Anstruther has explored her subject with objectivity laced with compassion. It's hard not to feel desperate sorrow for Enid, and for a family floundering in the face of something they couldn't bring themselves to accept nor understand.Author: Lynne Hatwell Source: dovegreyreader
Eleanor has cherished her role as the family’s retrospective therapist. In her head she listened to the voices of all her relatives; she tried to understand the culture that surrounded them, and she feels she’s finally put their pain and agonies to rest.Author: Joanna Moorhead Source: You Magazine
Gripping, insightful and written with a breathtaking elegance and eloquence that makes this first novel doubly impressive, Anstruther’s beautifully crafted story sets out to examine and understand how the intolerable weight of expectation and responsibility can damage and destroy lives.Author: Pam Norfolk Source: Lancashire post
Based on the true story of Enid Campbell, a duke’s granddaughter whose battles with mental illness cost her custody of her children, Anstruther’s debut novel follows a desperate Enid as she offers to give her son to her sister for £500. With a narrative that moves fluidly between time periods, this is a historical read that really resonates.Source: Woman Magazine
Eleanor Anstruther has written an astounding debut novel that bravely and completely brings to life a difficult family history. It also deftly holds up a mirror to our own world and asks us who are we to judge, when behind closed doors our family may not be as perfect as we like to show to the outside world either. I loved it.Source: Years of Reading Selfishly
You can’t fail but be touched by A Perfect Explanation and the tragedy of a family torn apart by abandonment, lack of communication and understanding, anger and jealousy. There are no winners in this story, which is the saddest part of it.Source: Over 40 and a Mum to One
This is just superb. Elegant, intense, completely bewitching.Author: Xan Brooks
Anstruther exhumes the skeleton in her family closet with devastating skill. A captivating, chilling, deeply insightful portrait of a family torn apart by responsibilities both taken on and pushed aside.Author: Sam Bain See all Product description
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Writing this, I find myself less concerned with the story – although it’s undeniably riveting – & more enamoured of the storytelling. With the way the author lays her words on the page. This book unfolds in layers of exquisitely fierce prose. The dialogue scalds – characters show scant compassion for Enid & her situation. They are often horribly, crushingly cruel. She was clearly a deeply flawed woman but obviously ill & a victim of the mores of the time.
Although it's an unbearably tragic story & one can look at Enid & judge her, the author chooses to show her compassion; to vindicate her & lay out her virtually impossible choices. Ultimately it's a kind book, a generous retelling in which no judgement is made. Anstruther has allowed all her characters to speak for themselves, reveal their prejudices & their vulnerabilities.
This is a haunting, astute & memorable book. I found it hard to put down & there is, I suspect, no higher praise. Not enough stars.
The story is both beautiful and haunting, and the descriptive writing is mesmerizing.
I look forward to Eleanor’s next book!
It highlights hopefully bygone times of familial expectation , tradition , and repression. Beautifully written , I highly recommend this stunning story .