Lovers on a Train

Susannah Clapp

  • Carol by Patricia Highsmith
    Bloomsbury, 240 pp, £13.99, October 1990, ISBN 0 7475 0719 8

‘Beautifully written’ is novel-reviewer’s shorthand for ‘written by a woman’. So is ‘slim’. And ‘slender’. I began to note these casual condescensions when I was helping to judge last year’s Booker Prize. But then, prizes bring out prickliness. ‘Do you think,’ asked one contributor to the London Review of Books, ‘that the Booker panel is as distinguished as it should be?’ The question was delivered with a speculative air, worthy of the academic who spoke. ‘After all,’ he mused on, ‘there are probably dons who would be prepared to act as judges.’

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