Benedick Hunter is a man who has lost everything. A failed actor and divorced father on the verge of a nervous breakdown, his life takes on a new direction when he finds a book of his mother’s in which real people and their stories are strangely intertwined with traditional fairytales. In 1965, Laura, an American illustrator of children’s books, committed suicide in Primrose Hill after Benedick’s father left her for another woman. Her son can remember nothing about her, but the fairytales and their tantalising illustrations convince him that his own life is in some way echoing and repeating hers.
Hunter embarks on a bizarre and darkly comic quest to discover who his mother really was and why she died. Haunted by guilt, by the consequences of his own erratic behaviour, and by his impossible children, Hunter struggles with the terrible and the absurd. Hunter’s obsession takes him back into the London of the early 1960s, and across the Atlantic to New York and the magical yet sinister landscape of North Carolina. What was the connection between Laura’s creativity and her death? Why do some people portray her as evil and others as good? Hunter’s journey takes him to the heart of his own nature, of modern fatherhood, of manic depression and of the elusive nature of fairytales.
Reviews of In a Dark Wood
- ‘An intelligent and gripping novel. Wonderful, page-turning storytelling.’ The Times
- ‘Exhibits the same incisiveness and intelligence as her acclaimed “A Vicious Circle”. Witty and disturbing, it is a novel of both accomplishment and charm.’ Daily Mail
- ‘A book within a book, a rich plot with plenty of on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, an abundance of quirky but believable character…“In A Dark Wood” is an elegant anti-fairy tale for adults that keeps you guessing until the last few pages.’ Daily Express
- ‘An eerie novel full of fairytale menace…beguilingly told and hypnotic.’ Independent on Sunday