Paperback review: A Private Place, By Amanda Craig

In this reprint of a novel that first appeared in 1991, Amanda Craig's skewering of posh, liberal boarding school culture is as viciously funny as ever.

Alice, the hyper-intellectual stepdaughter of the headmaster, is an obvious target for bullying; so is Winthrop T Sheen, because he is American; and so is Fay, who has committed the offence of being Jewish. The environment of fear, persecution, and rigid hierarchy is brilliantlyconveyed – and all within a progressive school culture which would deny the possibility of bullying. The black comedy escalates to a somewhat implausible Grand Guignol finish but it is a fantastic ride. The theme of school bullying is a sure-fire way to engage reader sympathies, but few do it with such skill, wit and panache as Craig. Do the bullies get their comeuppance? You must read the novel to find out.

Abacus £10.99

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