“Early on you are assailed by an image so potently repellent, so graphically horrible that it squats in your brain and refuses to be dislodged.” Jonathan Meades
“Susan Finlay has a staggeringly beautiful prose style that belies a devastating viciousness. And, what’s more, she knows how to tell a story.” Anouchka Grose
“Clinical and subtle, but also pulsing with raciness and heat… Horrifyingly brilliant work.” The Manchester Review of Books
Splendid… A winner.” Book of the Month at Le Document
A Burning House Books’ Book Club Choice
“There was something so unreal about the neat Georgian houses opposite and the laurel ball trees in front of them that once again I saw England as a piece of antique porcelain. As something no longer used or displayed due to its unfashionable appearance and propensity to crack…”
June 2016, and world-famous cellist and former “sexiest classical musician” Allegra Le Clef is suffering from a compound wrist fracture. Europe also crumbles… From the initial break in London, to the crisis in Athens, to trying and failing to patch things up in Amsterdam Allegra traverses the continent to the accompaniment of a Late Romantic soundtrack (plus Vangelis via Nigel Havers). When not sending emails to a BDSM obsessed catfish, or wondering whether a piece of Nazi jewellery might “lift one of my more sombre evening gowns,” she attempts to ease her conscience by volunteering at a refugee centre known for its Syrian cuisine, yet remains oblivious to the numerous other personal and political disasters that are looming. Shocking, camp-and shockingly camp-My Other Spruce and Maple Self is nevertheless a profoundly sad book about a woman unable to come to terms with her own declining status, as well as that of the West.