MUST READS

MUST READS

GIRL A by Abigail Dean (Harper Collins £8.99, 336 pp)

GIRL A

by Abigail Dean (Harper Collins £8.99, 336 pp)

A photograph shows the seven Gracie children ranged in height order outside their family home. Behind them, long shadows veil the house. There is a dark shadow, too, over their lives, for the image is not a happy family snap, but a line-up of prisoners.

Held captive, starved and abused by their religious fanatic father and complicit mother, the siblings are freed when 15-year-old Lex, or ‘Girl A’ as she becomes known to the Press, escapes.

But as they emerge into a blaze of publicity, it is hard to imagine how their lives will unfold.

When her mother dies in prison, Lex, now a high-powered lawyer, is forced to revisit the terrible secrets of the past. Chilling and compelling, Abigail Dean’s haunting psychological thriller is an unmissable debut.

TO THE END OF THE WORLD

by Rupert Everett (Abacus £9.99, 352 pp)

‘Having a dream in middle age is a dangerous occupation and mine is crushing me,’ writes Rupert Everett.

The dream was to write, direct, produce and star in a film about the final years of Oscar Wilde. Several false starts later, the dream was poised to become reality. The money was raised (sort of), locations scouted (mostly by Rupert, staying in Wilde-haunted hotels of faded grandeur), a starry cast hired, including Emily Watson and Rupert’s old chum Colin Firth, who nobly renounced his fee. What could possibly go wrong?

Everett’s third volume of memoirs details in gloriously gossipy detail the myriad disasters that befell his film. The epilogue finds him living in Wiltshire with his mum and dog, planning his next move. ‘Never has the future seemed so uncertain’, he reflects.

KISS MYSELF GOODBYE by Ferdinand Mount (Bloomsbury £10.99, 304 pp)

KISS MYSELF GOODBYE

by Ferdinand Mount (Bloomsbury £10.99, 304 pp)

As children, Ferdinand Mount and his sister, Francie, visited the splendid Sussex house where their aunt and uncle lived. Unca and Munca, as they called themselves, after the mouse in a Beatrix Potter story, lived in grand style and their daughter, Georgie, was raised to shine in society.

Yet behind the opulence was a mystery: was Munca really born in America? How old was she? And what became of Georgie’s adopted baby sister, Celeste, who vanished?

Decades later, in 2006, the mystery began to unravel. To say that Munca was not who she claimed to be is an understatement: Mount’s patient sleuthing in the archives revealed that her entire life was a fantasy.

Veering giddily from grand guignol to poignant melancholy, this is an exquisitely wrought portrait of a wickedly fascinating woman. 

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