Selected by our Editorial Experts
Sarah Broadhurst's view...
The blurb on this book says that it is difficult not to think of it as an autobiography, and that is exactly how it reads. It is a straightforward life story, sad, funny, harrowing, powerful and triumphant, and what a life for it is one spent in crime. This is London in the post second world war decades, full of incident, drama, love and great characters, especially our protagonist Queenie. Here is a lady with amazing strength and spirit and a huge sense of self-preservation living in a fascinating period brought vividly to life in an outstanding book. You've got to read it.
Comparison: Lionel Shriver, Stef Penney, Louise Welsh Who are our Editorial Experts ?
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Lucky Bunny by Jill Dawson
'Crime's a man's business. So they say. Who was that small figure then, slender enough to trot along the moonlit track, swift and low, virtually invisible? Who was it that covered the green signal with a glove to stop the train, while the two others took care of the driver and his mate? Could it have been one Queenie Dove, survivor of the Depression and the Blitz, not to mention any number of scrapes with the law?' Queenie Dove is a self-proclaimed genius when it comes to thieving and escape. Daring, clever and sexy, she ducked and dived through the streets of London from the East End through Soho to Mayfair, graduating from childhood shop-lifting to more glamorous crimes in the post-war decades. So was she wicked through and through, or more sinned against than sinning? Here she tells a vivacious tale of trickery and adventure, but one with more pain and heartbreak than its heroine cares to admit. Yes, luck often favoured her, but that is only part of the story.
'Gloriously enjoyable...Queenie bursts out of these pages, longing for life, as we are drawn into her world by Dawson's terse, electric prose. I've seldom read a novel with such a sense of excitement.'
Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph
'Jill Dawson is one of those writers so gifted and assured you relax just five words in...heroine Queenie is no angel. But she's resourceful, funny, brave and beautiful. You're on her side from that fifth word'
Wendy Holden, Daily Mail
'A treat to read'
John Self, Guardian
'Dawson, as ever, delves deep into her subject matter, combining fast-paced narrative with astute, piercing reflection on more complex matters'
Leyla Sanai, Independent on Sunday
'She leaves us with some unforgettable images...It is admirable, too, for the way its fizzing narrative is grounded in a cool-eyed awareness of the social and sexual injustices of the mid-20th century' -- Maggie Gee, Independent
'Far more than just crime caper. An award winning poet, Dawson shrewdly uses her heroine's undeniably clever but poorly educated point of view to evocative and sometimes lyrical effect, the author's use of language pure, simple and shimmering.' -- The Scotsman
'Heart-rippingly painful and joyously playful. A major prize-winning contender.'
'Pacy and atmospheric, this tale of a girl attempting to dictate her own destiny is wickedly good'
Eithne Farry, Marie Claire
'Despite its surface thrills and spills and Krays era glamour, Lucky Bunny is a novel of great concern, human sympathy and seriousness. It is a novel of ideas and society, disguised as a romp...In the end I understood and admired Queenie Dove - and admired Jill Dawson, too, for creating something so fine from such brutish elements.'
About the Author
Jill Dawson is the author of TRICK OF THE LIGHT, MAGPIE, FRED AND EDIE, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and the Orange Prize, and WILD BOY, all published by Sceptre to critical acclaim. WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, her latest novel, will be published by Sceptre in March 2006. She is also an award-winning poet and has edited several anthologies including The Virago Book of Wicked Verse, and, with Margo Daly, Wild Ways. She was the British Council Fellow at Amherst College, Massachusetts, in 1997 and is currently the Royal Literary Fund Fellow in Writing at the University of East Anglia. Born in Durham, she now lives with her family in the Fens.
Photograph © Luke White
Fellow novelist Katharine McMahon on Jill Dawson...
The Great Lover is a novel about a poet, Rupert Brooke, that
pushes past the cliches of tea on the lawn at Grantchester and takes an
utterly fresh look at the poet. The writing is very clear and precise
and makes for a fascinating read. And what's more, I was inspired to
go and read Brooke's poetry too.
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