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Grace McCleen's first novel, The Land of Decoration, was published in 2012 and was awarded the Desmond Elliott Prize for the best first novel of the year. It was also chosen for Richard & Judy's Book Club and won her the Betty Trask Prize in 2013. Her second novel, The Professor of Poetry, was published by Sceptre in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Encore Award. She read English at the University of Oxford and has an MA from York, and currently lives in London.
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015. I thought it began the day Father came home without work. Then I thought perhaps it really began the day we arrived at the farm, rumbled up the track, opened the gate and stood looking around as if we had found ourselves in some enchanted land ...Something happened on Madeline's fourteenth birthday, something so traumatic that it triggered her mental breakdown. Many years later, she still can't - or perhaps won't - recall the events of that night. A charismatic new psychiatrist, Dr Lucas, believes he can unlock Madeline's memory by taking her step by step through the preceding year, when her father moved the family to an island he was certain God had guided them to. Money was short, her mother often unwell and her father a volatile presence. Yet Madeline loved their rural idyll, sensing God in every blade of grass; and when things started to go wrong, she thought she knew how to put them right. But as Dr Lucas unearths the past, it becomes apparent that she was seriously misguided - and that he is treading on very dangerous ground.
Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' 2012. One of the Richard and Judy Spring 2013 Book Club selections. My name is Judith McPherson. I am ten years old. On Monday a miracle happened. Judith doesn't have much. The house she shares with her devoutly religious father is full of dusty relics, reminders of the mother Judith never knew. Bullied at school, she finds comfort in creating a miniature world in her bedroom - a world of wonder she calls The Land of Decoration. Perhaps, she thinks, if she makes it snow in The Land of Decoration there will be no school on Monday. Sure enough, when Judith opens her curtains the next day, the world beyond her window has turned white. And that's when her troubles begin.
Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' 2012. Judith and her father don't have much - their house is full of dusty relics, reminders of the mother she's never known. But Judith sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith, and where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility. Bullied at school, she finds solace in making a model of the Promised Land - little people made from pipe cleaners, a sliver of moon, luminous stars and a mirror sea - a world of wonder that Judith calls The Land of Decoration. Perhaps, she thinks, if she makes it snow indoors (using shaving foam and cotton wool and cellophane) there will be no school on Monday...Sure enough, when Judith opens her curtains the next day, the world beyond her window has turned white. She has performed her first miracle. And that's when her troubles begin.