BOOK REVIEW / In brief: Pillion Riders - Elisabeth Russell Taylor: Peter Owen, pounds 14.95

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The Independent Culture
After a sheltered upbringing Opal has been directed by her father into marriage with a 57-year-old German businessman. Soon she meets a young French composer who carries her off on his motorbike. Her lifestyle takes a nosedive, but this matters less than the discovery that she has stepped into a dead woman's shoes: Jean Claude has been keeping them unhealthily warm since his sister's suicide three years earlier. 'I was brought up to be useful to men,' says Opal. Certainly there's little she will not do if it makes her feel useful. Candour and self-knowledge without self-pity inform this unusual and delicate story.

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