Being Emily, By Anne Donovan

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The Independent Culture

In her mother's absence, an overwhelming weight hangs over the house where the sixth-former Fiona is charged with caring for her younger twin sisters and their depressed father. Fiona seeks comfort in fantasies about the life of her heroine, Emily Brontë, and there are many intriguing lines of reference between Wuthering Heights and Being Emily, from a dead mother to a devastating romance. Fiona develops a relationship with the pensive Jas, a Sikh boy who is also something of an outsider and knows about grief. But, on meeting Jas's elder brother, the enchanting musician Amrik, Fiona feels a splinter of ice in her heart toward Jas and a spark of attraction for Amrik.

Donovan writes, in Glaswegian dialect, with an idiosyncratic and beguiling prose style that was so powerful in her debut novel, Buddha Da, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread and Orange prizes. She handles characters and plot with both toughness and tenderness, and depicts the pains and pleasures borne by the developing female artist.

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