Sitting Among the Eskimos, by Maggie Graham

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The Independent Culture

Graham's infectious first novel is narrated by mature student Lizzie Burns, a burnt-out mother trying to reconcile her academic aspirations with the hard graft of family life. Each day she commutes from the grim coastal town of Saltcoats to Glasgow, returning at night to her miserable marriage and mocking neighbours. The Faculty of Arts ­ a bastion of middle-aged male lecturers ­ doesn't offer much of an alternative. An energetically told story of roads not taken, Lizzie also ponders what might have been if she'd applied herself to looking good, rather than the illusive goal of further education.