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The brilliant new novel from the Man Booker shortlisted author of The Clothes on Their Backs
'If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don't know how to explain.'
In the early Seventies a glamorous and androgynous couple known collectively as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But the varnished patina of youth and flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories. For Adele, with the most to conceal, Evie/Stevie become a lifelong obsession, as she examines what happened on the night of her own twentieth birthday and her friends' complicity in their fate. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for nearly forty years. From summers in Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after they have disappeared, Evie/Stevie go on challenging everyone's ideas of what their lives should turn out to be.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
It's not just the fact that this novel is set at my university in the north of England that makes me love it. It's Grant's superb ability to capture the feeling of the times in this terrifically authentic story about student life, especially the first awkward foray into relationships, friendships, infatuations and other uneasy human manoeuvrings on the road to self-awareness. Personalities are tried on like clothes, and discarded just as easily. The same goes for identities. Class, intellect, sex appeal and success become increasingly significant markers together with envy and popularity. Mental illness hovers on the periphery, its dark presence prompting tragedy, together with inevitable guilt and regret. Many readers will recognise something of their student selves in these psychologically acute pages. Grant creates utterly believable, three-dimensional characters with the same clear-eyed wisdom as Margaret Drabble before her.
About the Author
Linda Grant is a novelist and journalist. She won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and the Lettre Ulysses Prize for Literary Reportage in 2006, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2008 for The Clothes on their Backs.
There's a thoughtful pessimism about this novel that makes it the finest of elegies for the dreams of 50 years ago -- John Sutherland * The Times * It's Grant's heartfelt emotional complexity that you'll remember long past the last page * Stylist * Her eye for social history is as sharp as ever -- Suzy Feay * Tablet * Grant always writes with incisive elegance and here paints a compelling picture of 1970s England . . . a stunner -- Ian Rankin * Guardian * A wonderfully and perceptively written story, which rings utterly true, and as a consequence lifts the spirits * Guardian * I read this deeply felt, deeply moving, novel twice. It's very good -- John Sutherland * The Times * Upstairs at the Party feels like a darker, more cynical version of Kate Atkinson's Emotionally Weird . . . a very good book: it creates a sense of yearning through a cloud of scepticism * Observer * Grant is so accomplished a novelist of recent social history . . . tender and touching -- Suzy Feay * Literary Review * One of our best modern authors, a Liverpudlian with a huge imagination. I've never been able to stop reading any of her work once I've started -- Peter Hitchens * Mail on Sunday * Fascinating -- John Sutherland * The Times * Brilliantly observed . . . determinedly unsettling * Daily Mail * A stylish, ambitious novel * Glamour * An enthralling coming-of-age story * Good Housekeeping * [An] excellent novel . . . Straight-talking but far from straightforward in its observations, Upstairs at the Party's portrait of an era is convincing, its subtle cynicism regarding the pitfalls of freedom something to mull over * Daily Telegraph * A hint of Brideshead . . . beautiful writing . . . [Grant] has a real knack for observation * Evening Standard * Haunting . . . compelling right to the very last page * List *
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 8th July 2014
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.7 x 15.3 x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.42
Edition Number: 1