An affair with a teacher is every girl’s fantasy, but what are the consequences? And what can you do when an illicit love threatens to overwhelm your whole life?
Cecilia is obsessively in love with her teacher, the older, married Mr Dahl. She plots and speculates, yet she never guesses that what she dreams of could actually happen. Is it her imagination, or is the high-minded Mr Dahl responding to her? Cecilia’s mother Dora wants the good life. She and her husband moved to Dartmoor so their children could run wild, free to make their own choices and mistakes. But Dora discovers that there is more to the countryside idyll, and indeed to her own marriage, than she assumed, when she finds herself fascinated by the very last, the very worst person she could fall for: the elegant and dangerous Elisabeth Dahl. Now, after twenty years, Cecilia is coming home, to face Dora, and to face her past. But the excitement and pain she had thought were buried cannot be buried. The past is a dangerous place.
You, the unnerving and exceptional new novel from Joanna Briscoe, is a stunning story of sex, memory and family lies. Published by Bloomsbury in July 2011.
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Praise for "You"
'In You Joanna Briscoe writes with elegance and passion about the clashes, misunderstandings and silences between generations. It is dangerously addictive: life was put firmly on hold while I raced to finish it.'
– Maggie O'Farrell
'It's one of those rare reads that lures you into its world and won't let you go... A passionate and humorous storyteller, Briscoe is a writer who puts her reader's pleasure first'
''What I love most about Joanna Briscoe's writing is that she vividly evokes a sense of place.... This novel has a fantastic plot, involving an adolescent crush the 17-year-old Cecilia has on her bookish, thirtysomething teacher, and a parallel lesbian affair, but it's the writing that's astounding. I've never come across teenage love, a wash of emotion and longing that can never be equalled in its intensity, written about so romantically....I'm jealous of anyone who hasn't read this book. What a treat you have in store.'
- Liz Jones, Evening Standard
'...though the web may be tangled, Briscoe weaves compelling fiction. The prose is rich, the setting evocative... a vivid metaphor for the human heart. Briscoe writes great characters, too..... a satisfyingly dark twist. ....To be hooked by a book is a treat, and I certainly enjoyed my time in this one's tangles. So many intriguing strands: how can she – will she – tie them? What marks the novel out is its skilful juggling of conflicting perspectives; so finely balanced that each turn the characters take contains both great reward and terrible risk. .... Briscoe has a way with narrative, much to be admired. She understands well the pleasure and pain, both of love and of reading stories.'
- Rachel Seiffert, Guardian
'An excellent eye ....pinpoint precision…. mercilessly accurate. ….Briscoe is brilliant at conveying the obsessiveness of teenage love, ratcheting up the tension until the reader is every bit as involved as the character, analysing each tiny gesture for any more profound meaning….a lushly evocative writer. Briscoe's prose is beguilingly good.'
'A coolly managed, gripping melodrama of the kind Daphne du Maurier might have admired... She's a sensual writer, using the wild moor, with its icy rivers and swift shifts in weather, as a counterpoint to the turbulent emotional landscape... the final, brilliantly managed denouement does nothing to dislodge a sense of lingering disquiet. This is a haunting, richly satisfying novel that plays with disturbing complexity on the question of how far it's possible, or even desirable, to escape from the past.'
- Literary Review
"vivid and acerbic. She has a singular prose style, moving from crisp observations to sentences that seem so gorged with words that they plunge into a lush romanticism. "
- Joan Smith, Sunday Times
'Love, lust, lies and regret.... savagely funny... hilarious, disturbing and more interesting than either its cover or its title might suggest.'
- Amanda Craig, Independent
'Silkily transgressive...Hardyesque...slow-burning, tantalising'
- Independent on Sunday
"As a storyteller, Briscoe excels. Her fluent prose leads the reader inexorably on… a lovely, and successful, entertainment'
- Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph
'addictive... I was already hooked'
'The latest page-turner by best-selling author Joanna Briscoe.... A beautiful and haunting novel that explores the nature of obsessive love.'
'You won't be able to put it down.'
- In Style
'Brilliantly recaptures the madness of youthful obsession. In a rugged, windswept landscape worthy of the Brontes, emotional tangles and buried lies enmesh the whole family, with a cliffhanging ending that will prey on your mind for days'
- Clare Longrigg, Psychologies
'Nobody captures the trials of rural bohemia like Joanna Briscoe.... a gripping summer's read, this psychologically astute and atmospheric novel races by just as furiously as Cecilia's beloved River Dart'
- The Lady
'This is a dark and moving literary novel, up there with the most evocative women's writing in the English language: the depth of characterisation you might expect from Austen and Bronte but with a modern more sensually explicit approach.'
- Lovereading Book of the Month
'A good old-fashioned chunky novel, with an absorbing plot, loads of characters and a proper denouement.... This would be a great novel for a reading group. Not only are the characters so real, but they also make for a vivid commentary on some very recognisable modern archetypes.'
- AN Wilson, Readers' Digest
'Beautifully written and utterly gripping'
- Woman and Home
'I greatly enjoyed You... this is a writer who really loves words. The vitality of her sparkling, questing sentences propels us into the world she has created.'
- Rodney Troubridge, The Bookseller
'With a tremendous sense of place, and many a literary reference, Briscoe brings the story to a dramatic conclusion.'
- Ruth Hunter, The Bookseller
'You is deliciously reminiscent of the haunting tales of the Brontes, Blackmoore and Hardy.'
- Baltimore Sun