Scissors, Paper, Stone, By Elizabeth Day

An astute novel of bedside manners

After a car knocks him from his bicycle, Charles Redfern lies unconscious in hospital. His wife Anne and daughter Charlotte sit quietly by his side.

Their relationship seems strained but, once it becomes apparent that Charles will not recover, they gradually open up about the effect his bullying presence has had on their lives.

Elizabeth Day's debut has some odd stylistic tics (a tendency to compare everything to "burnt caramel") and simplistic characterisation (Charlotte's boyfriend, Gabriel, is as improbably angelic as the name suggests). But it is well paced and psychologically astute, exploring the strictures of middle-class reticence with impressive subtlety.

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