The Dark Circle
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017
The Second World War is over, a new decade is beginning but for an East End teenage brother and sister living on the edge of the law, life has been suspended. Sent away to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kent to learn the way of the patient, they find themselves in the company of army and air force officers, a car salesman, a young university graduate, a mysterious German woman, a member of the aristocracy and an American merchant seaman. They discover that a cure is tantalisingly just out of reach and only by inciting wholesale rebellion can freedom be snatched.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Exhilaratingly good ... This is a novel whose engine is flesh and blood, not cold ideas ... Grant brings the 1950s - that odd, downbeat, fertile decade between war and sexual liberation - into sharp, bright, heartbreaking focus -- Christobel Kent Guardian A Grant novel is always a treat ... Grant captures the stigma that surrounded TB perfectly Evening Standard A writer whose language crackles with vitality and whose descriptive powers are working at such a high level Spectator Linda Grant brings a forgotten slice of social and medical history to life by conjuring a rich cast of disparate - though equally desperate - characters observed with wry humour and affection to produce an absorbing and profoundly moving story -- John Harding Daily Mail The novel is funny but also poignant ... I loved it Stylist The Dark Circle is, beneath its narrative surface, fiercely political. She poses a large, naggingly relevant, question. What would (will?) privatisation of the NHS mean? Read this fine, persuasive, moving novel and contemplate - if you can dare to - that awful possibility -- John Sutherland The Times Fascinating ... a revealing insight: both funny and illuminating, it is a novel about what it means to treat people well, medically, emotionally and politically -- Hannah Beckerman Observer Grant is so good at conjuring up atmosphere and writes with earthy vivacity -- Anthony Gardner Mail on Sunday Contemporary issues linger ominously in Grant's margins, silently enriching what's already an astonishingly good period piece -- Lucy Scholes Independent Her cast of characters is nothing less than a portrayal of post-war, class-riven Britain from the indolent aristocracy, to Oxford-educated blue stockings, and from car salesmen to the bottom of the pile, German emigres and East End Jewish lowlifes ...This is a novel, above all, about trauma caused by the "dark circle" of tuberculosis, and results in a "tight circle" of comradeship. The ambitious reach of the novel is wisely held in check by its focus on a time when Lenny and Miriam had to discover for themselves what it was to be human Jewish Chronicle A rich, engaging novel, further proof that Grant can conjure up a special mood in a specific period with great humour -- Ben Lawrence Sunday Telegraph Extraordinarily affecting -- Alex Preston Observer An extraordinary depiction of the physical and emotional experience of illness. She marvellously communicates the poignancy of youth and sexuality in the presence of impending death. Grant's voice is unlike any other writer; so immediate and engaged even when writing historical fiction -- Natasha Walter An amazing subject, wonderfully depicted, with plausible people whom I grew to love ... the most surprising plot developments. So original and full of life -- Joan Bakewell