According to Ruth, By Jane Feaver

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The Independent Culture

Jane Feaver's debut novel might have been written to illustrate Kant's saying that "out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made". Every character in it seems to be discontented, anxious or miserable in some way, and all have sound reasons for being so.

The novel recounts the events of a summer in 1979, when 15-year-old Ruth and her family stay at their tumbledown cottage in Northumberland. Ruth, the main narrator, records the bitter rivalry and jealousies among her siblings while casting an unflinching eye on the breakdown of her parents' marriage. Among its strengths is an appreciation of how pitilessly observant children are.

Put like this it all sounds rather grim, but it isn't. The Seventies are re-created in loving detail, the dialogue is stingingly good, and the novel left me feeling that life can be so bloody awful the last thing we should do is make it worse by being horrible to each other – an unexpectedly uplifting conclusion to draw.