The Offering

by Grace McCleen

eBooks of the Month Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

The Offering Synopsis

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.

The Good Book Guide Review

‘…not all offerings are accepted, not all bargains honoured.’ Madeline Adamson was thirteen when her family moved to a rundown farm on an island to which her father believed God had guided them. But their mission proved fruitless; work and money were in short supply, and the strains of their new existence told on both her parents. Now Madeline is in Lethem Park Mental Infirmary – her home for the past 21 years – where a new psychiatrist thinks he can unlock her memory of the traumatic events that ended her childhood, acts of atonement as shocking as they were misguided. As with Grace McCleen’s earlier work, this is a beautifully crafted, fluent work of intensity, but its subject matter makes for painful reading. Tracing Madeline’s island experiences and her increasingly deluded state, alongside her commentary on her treatment as a psychiatric patient, this is a bleak novel, but one of great integrity.

The Offering Press Reviews

'Extraordinary...Wonderfully suspenseful and deeply moving, The Offering is full of insights about the nature of madness. It is also keenly observant of the ways in which men play God and the power of the oppressed imagination to create an inhabitable world, even under near-intolerable conditions.' John Burnside, Guardian


'That McCleen is a writer of exceptional gifts is beyond doubt. Her prose can soar in moments of breathtaking beauty, most particularly when she turns a poet's eye on the landscape...she writes equally viscerally about her narrator's emotional terrain, depicting claustrophobia, shame and terror so painfully it makes your skin itch.' Stephanie Merritt, Observer


'Strange and beautiful' Hope Whitmore, Independent on Sunday


'Grace McCleen's talent for description, especially when portraying the natural world, is quite exquisite' Carol Midgley, The Times


'The richness with which Madeline describes her febrile younger self contrasts heartbreakingly with the glassy, emotionally neutered life she inhabits now...a bold, mature, terribly sad novel.' Claire Allfree, Daily Mail


'Impressive, a plausible and moving account of mental illness.' Sam Kitchener, Daily Telegraph


'Captures the intensity of teenage anguish, and expresses a terrifying estimation of its implications, but it also dares to suggest that God can never be removed from the equation and asks: What is God?' Max Liu, Independent


'There is an eerie sense of foreboding in Grace McCleen's wonderful third novel...Terrific and terrifying.' Psychologies (Book of the Month)


'Award-winning author Grace McCleen returns with The Offering, a mesmerising story of innocence corrupted.' Good Housekeeping

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781444769999
Publication date: 15/01/2015
Publisher: Sceptre an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781444769999
Publication date: 15th January 2015
Author: Grace McCleen
Publisher: Sceptre an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Format: Hardback
Genres: eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction,

About Grace McCleen

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.

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