Sin, By Josephine Hart


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The Independent Culture

The Irish-born Josephine Hart, who died earlier this year, is probably best known for her debut novel Damage (1991) - a dark portrait of sexual obsession turned into a film starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche.

Her second novel Sin, first published in 1992, is an equally compelling look at the corrosive power of envy. The novel's narrator, Ruth, has always regarded her adopted sister, Elizabeth, as a usurper of her parents' affections.

As an adult, she determines to assuage her pain - first by trying to seduce Elizabeth's husband, then, after his death, her new suitor. Hart's distinctive and poetic prose has stood the test of time. Her fascination with sexual conduct and its consequences lends her fiction a decidedly Murdochian flavour.