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Synopsis

Stephen King meets Muriel Spark in Hilary Mantel's first novel.

Evelyn Axon - a medium by trade - and her half-wit daughter Muriel have become a social problem. Barricaded in their once-respectable house, they live amid festering rubbish, unhealthy smells - and secrets. They completely baffle Isabel Field, the social worker assigned to help them. But Isabel is only the most recent in a long line of people that find the Axons impossible. Meanwhile, Isabel has her own problems: a married lover, Colin. He is a history teacher to unresponsive children and father to a passel of his own horrible kids. With all this to worry about, how can Isabel even begin to understand what is going on in the Axon household? When Evelyn finally moves to defend Muriel, and Muriel, in turn, acts to protect herself, the results are by turns hilarious and terrifying.

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