An Equal Stillness, By Francesca Kay

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The Independent Culture

Why did the Man Booker long-list shun this wonderful debut? A mystery – but one oddly apt for a novel that so plausibly creates an artist's life and shows it blown and broken by gales of passion, chance and fate.

Jennet Mallow is a Yorkshire-born painter who, to fulfil her gift, spurns the "self-sacrifice of women" expected in the postwar decades. But, in one dazzlingly written and brilliantly executed scene after another, she remains a credibly torn soul in whom love and art tragically spar.

From dank London to wild Spain and radiant Cornwall, Kay shows people who change in shifting lights and angles "like a chameleon on a rainbow". A marvel.