Little Egypt

Lesley Glaister’s latest novel is a gothic tale of horror and neglect. In a narrative that switches between the present day and the 1920s, we see how the damage wrought during the childhood of twins Isis and Osiris has blighted their lives for nearly a century. The twins’ names are a clue to their parents’ particular madness, which is to join the “mummy rush” in Egypt, just like their arch-rival, the (real life) archaeologist Howard Carter. Alas, while Carter’s hunt for Tutankhamun will ultimately prove successful, it turns out that Evelyn and Arthur are as poor at Egyptology as they are at parenting. Glaister is very good at creating an atmosphere of rank gloom, and her alternating structure gives her rich opportunities for dramatic tension, which she exploits brilliantly. She slowly ramps up the grotesqueries with just the right amount of dark and light: a gleam of macabre humour leavens the misery, while there is always empathy for Isis, doomed to suffer a horrible life to protect her disturbed and disturbing twin. Sam Baker, Harper’s Bazaar.

Lesley Glaister

Lesley Glaister is a writer of fiction and poetry. She has written over a dozen novels, the first of which, Honour Thy Father, won both a Somerset Maugham and a Betty Trask Award. Her most recent novel, Little Egypt, received a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and currently teaches Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews. She lives in Edinburgh – with frequent forays to Orkney – with her husband, Andrew Greig.