Elspeth Barker

Elspeth Barker novel, O Caledonia, won the David Higham Prize and the Angel Fiction Prize. The paperback will appear in May.

O filth, O beastliness

Elspeth Barker, 8 October 1992

With characteristic perversity, Gaius Valerius Catullus has left us a grand profusion of vivid glimpses into his life, but no overall account. The known facts are few. He was born in 84 BC to a wealthy family in Verona. At the age of fourteen or so he moved to Rome to further his education; there he remained. Although he made regular visits to his family’s properties in the north, the city was his element:

Stepchildren

Elspeth Barker, 9 April 1992

The end-papers of Stepsons show that classic of nostalgia, a family long ago at tea in a summer garden. A laughing aunt clutches a terrier; ranged round the table are a baleful grandmother, an alert little girl, a father scarcely visible and two boys whose faces rend the heart. Gentle, vulnerable, unbearably tense, they are poised for flight. Opposite, as far off as possible, sits their enemy, the Scottish Gerwoman, the stepmother of this tragic autobiographical novel.

Auchnasaugh

Patrick Parrinder, 7 November 1991

David Craig has an unfashionable concern with truth-telling in fiction. In his earlier role as a literary critic, he wrote a book called The Real Foundations in which he showed how some of the...

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