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  1. Caroline sold me ‘Brockenspectre’ on the steps of Kendal Library a few months ago. Whether or not I simultaneously plugged my history of Appleby Fair, ‘There’ll Always Be Appleby’ (2019) I don’t now recall; it would be relevant inasmuch as Hild and Gray take a caravan holiday there before deciding that Whitby suits them better. I haven’t attempted to write fiction for decades, but when I did I was partial to the frequent switches in perspective that Caroline employs. I don’t often read it now, so it’s a tribute to ‘Brockenspectre’ that I read it in two sittings because I actually wanted to know what would happen. Stylistic switches from a run of short sentences to a log one with plenty of subordinate clauses works well – as you’d expect from a teacher of writing. At first it seems that the unfolding plot is Educating Rita-esque, but it soon becomes clear that it’s a lot more complex – and disturbing – than that. As a career teacher, albeit of History and in a school, not a university, I could relate to much of the ambience and the issues raised, but the Goyaesque denouement didn’t quite work for me. Nevertheless, a stimulating, instructive, worthwhile read.

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