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‘An extraordinary achievement.’ A. S. Byatt
John Brown’s Body, first published in 1969, was A.L. Barker’s fourth novel and was shortlisted for the second annual Booker Prize in 1970.
Marise Tomelty is the young wife of a travelling salesman, who dislikes sex and is terrified of open spaces. Ralph Shilling, a dealer in pesticides, lives in the flat above the Tomeltys’. One day Marise’s husband casually mentions that he recognises Ralph as John Brown: a man acquitted, for lack of evidence, of the gruesome double murder of two sisters. Nevertheless, Marise encourages Ralph’s attentions, intoxicated by a heady mix of passion and fear.
‘She is formidable, and from a bare corner of human relations gathers a rich harvest.’ Adam Mars-Jones
‘It would be hard to find anyone who chooses words more exactly or constructs with more precision.’ Penelope Fitzgerald
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