The Language of Birds
By Jill Dawson
A hypnotic and thought-provoking novel inspired by the sensational Lord Lucan case, by the Orange Prize-shortlisted author of Fred & Edie.
Drawing on the infamous Lord Lucan affair, this compelling novel explores the roots of a shocking murder from a fresh perspective and brings to vivid life an era when women's voices all too often went unheard.
In the summer of 1974, Mandy River arrives in London to make a fresh start and begins working as nanny to the children of one Lady Morven. She quickly finds herself in the midst of a bitter custody battle and the house under siege: Lord Morven is having his wife watched. According to Lady Morven, her estranged husband also has a violent streak, yet she doesn't seem the most reliable witness. Should Mandy believe her?
As Mandy tries to shield her young charges from harm, her friend Rosemary watches from the wings - an odd girl with her own painful past and a rare gift. This time, though, she misreads the signs.
Jill Dawson is the author of the novels Trick of the Light, Magpie, Fred and Edie, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, Wild Boy, Watch Me Disappear, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, The Great Lover, Lucky Bunny, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Crime Writer, which won the East Anglian Book of the Year. An award-winning poet, she has also edited several poetry and short story anthologies.
Jill Dawson has held many Fellowships, including the Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. In 2008 she founded a mentoring scheme for new writers, Gold Dust. She lives in the Cambridgeshire Fens.
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- Publication date:
04 Apr 2019
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Strange, alluring and gripping, it's fascinating to see a famous "scandal" from the voiceless victim's point of view. The Language of Birds pulls you towards the inevitable tragedy while delicately unpicking the tangles in the mother-baby-nanny triangle, the British class system and the hidden horrors of domestic violence. Jill Dawson is one of our most interesting writers. — Sofka Zinovieff, author of PUTNEY
PRAISE FOR THE CRIME WRITER: Fantastically moody and appealingly unhinged . . . [it] achieves a wonderful blurring of the lines between fact and fantasy. — Sarah Waters, Summer Reads, Guardian
A witty, creepy plot as well as a convincing character sketch of a woman all too easy to caricature — Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph
Beautifully written and elegant — Jessica Mann, Literary Review
[An] impeccable portrait . . . a hugely compelling read, jam-packed full of tensions and psychological insight, all beautifully observed. — Eithne Ferry, Sunday Express
Dawson skilfully constructs a dark tale that Highsmith fans will love — Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
Brilliant — Paula Hawkins, author of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Utterly riveting — Daily Mail
Fascinating — Spectator