Alys, Always

Harriet Lane

Alys, Always

Frances is a thirty-something sub-editor, an invisible production drone, on the books pages of the Questioner. Her routine, colourless existence is disrupted one winter evening when she happens upon the aftermath of a car crash and hears the last words of the driver, Alys Kyte. When Alys's family makes contact in an attempt to find closure, Frances is given a tantalising glimpse of a very different world: one of privilege and possibility. The relationships she builds with the Kytes will have an impact on her own life, both professionally and personally, as Frances dares to wonder whether she might now become a player in her own right. 4.0 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
Alys, Always

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 224
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication February 2012
ISBN 978-0297865018
Publisher W&N
 

Frances is a thirty-something sub-editor, an invisible production drone, on the books pages of the Questioner. Her routine, colourless existence is disrupted one winter evening when she happens upon the aftermath of a car crash and hears the last words of the driver, Alys Kyte. When Alys's family makes contact in an attempt to find closure, Frances is given a tantalising glimpse of a very different world: one of privilege and possibility. The relationships she builds with the Kytes will have an impact on her own life, both professionally and personally, as Frances dares to wonder whether she might now become a player in her own right.

Reviews

The Daily Mail

Wendy Holden

Superbly, even poetically written with an almost feverish hyper-realism, this All About Eve for our times misses no telling detail of the difference between the entitled and the unentitled classes. A brilliant idea, brilliantly realised. I loved it, loved it.

03/02/2012

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The Spectator

Leyla Sanai

Lane is a formidable wordsmith, and the literary world is conjured up in all its delicious, gossipy hierarchy. She specialises in sharp character assassinations: the imperious literary editor who ignores the lowly, but ‘unctuously attends to the ego’ of the important; the titled daughter of a famous writer who ‘is entirely at ease talking about herself, as if it’s her birthright to be heard’ ... Mordantly funny, yet chilling, this tale of an ordinary woman inveigling her way into a position of power is compulsive reading.

04/02/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Sheena Joughin

Frances is opportunistic, deceitful and cunning. The greatest risk Harriet Lane takes here is that we might tire of this greedy protagonist, but both are clever enough to keep us very close. We hear of the lies, the subterfuge and the careful design that Frances’s rise entails, and are flattered to be told what others can’t guess. Like a friend we don’t trust, but can’t help admiring, she nurtures our collusion ... This is a gripping, psychologically complex achievement, whose greatest success is its lingering sense of unease.

03/02/2012

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The Times

Kate Saunders

I can’t bear to give away anything else; this novel begins with a bang and delivers all sorts of surprises, but also manages some acute and moving observations about bereavement and grief. A very fine debut.

04/02/2012

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The Financial Times

Adrian Turpin

Harriet Lane’s exceptional first novel matches the twisted motivations of Sophie Hannah to the social satire of Amanda Craig’s A Vicious Circle. In Frances she has created a character Daphne du Maurier might have been proud of: vulnerable, manipulative, resourceful, chippy, but one of us.

10/02/2012

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The Observer

Phil Mongredien

Frances is a fascinating creation: determined, deceitful, intriguingly complex and believably drawn. As she inveigles herself deeper into the Kyte family's trust, you find yourself constantly reassessing her character. This deeply unsettling but eminently readable story is one that will linger in the memory.

04/03/2012

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Times Literary Supplement

Kirsty Hewitt

Lane’s narrative voice is captivating, absorbing the reader almost immediately and throughout the novel’s various episodes of entanglement, separation and high drama. Her use of the present tense means that we are right beside Frances as her story unfolds over the course of a year, and her characters are quirky and believable individuals.

30/03/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Rachel Hore

This chilling and accomplished debut is in classic Ruth Rendell territory. Crucially, the author knows the trick of what to leave out, and of how to tantalise.

05/02/2012

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The Guardian

Caroline Brothers

A suspenseful portrait of the outsider and a satisfyingly bitchy send-up of literary London.

24/02/2012

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