NEW FICTION IN BRIEF
Sunday 18 February 1996
2 Dance With Me by Louise Doughty, Touchstone pounds 9.99. Crazy Paving was one of the best first novels of last year, but Doughty's new book is more ambitious in structure and tone, part psychological thriller and part ghost story. When Bet's boyfriend Peter dies, having changed his will entirely in her favour only the previous week, her legacy is not as straightforward as it seemed. Moving into his house, she begins to discover how little she really knew him. Her story is intercut with that of a second woman who is forced to confront other kinds of ghosts and fantasies, this time in the dilapidated office block where she works: the silences at the end of the phone and a shadowy figure who walks the basement. This is a compelling novel about madness and dissociation written as a fiction-within-a-fiction. It has strong central women characters, although - it turns out - one of them is a figment of the other's imaginings. The peripheral characters are also well-rounded, and it is overall intriguing, cunningly wrought and atmospheric.
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