Emily Woof - The Whole Wide Beauty

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Emily Woof - The Whole Wide Beauty

(Faber)

The debut novel of actor and playwright Emily Woof, The Whole Wide Beauty arguably betrays its author’s thespian background with the sheer self-absorption of her characters, densely layered but seemingly incapable of empathy outwith sudden, dramatic epiphanies. Katherine is an unhappily married mother-of-one, adrift from her former career as a dancer, working part-time as a teacher in a school for problem children. Like everyone in her family and beyond, she finds her personal desires swept up in the vocation of her charismatic father, the fund-raising force behind a Lake District poetry foundation. Until that is, she meets Stephen, a talented poet and David’s protégé and they embark upon a potentially catastrophic affair.

Woof writes with an engaging, lyrical style and her scrutiny of the constricting ties that bind families together is persuasive, even if for all the suppressed depths of torment, structurally at least, the story concludes a little too neatly.

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