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Finalist for the Desmond Elliott Prize
A “superb debut”* novel—based on the story of the author’s grandmother—following an aristocratic woman who abandons her family and her money in search of a life she can claim as her own. (*The Guardian)
Enid Campbell, granddaughter of a duke, grew up surrounded by servants, wanting for nothing except love. But when her brother died in the First World War, a new heir was needed, and it was up to Enid to provide it.
A troubled marriage and three children soon followed. Broken by postpartum depression, overwhelmed by motherhood and a loveless marriage, Enid made the shocking decision to abandon her family, thereby starting a chain of events—a kidnap, a court case, and selling her son to her sister for £500—that reverberated through the generations.
Interweaving one significant day in 1964, when it seems the family will reunite for one last time, with a decade during the interwar period, A Perfect Explanation explores the perils of aristocratic privilege, where inheritance is everything and happiness is hard won.
About the Author
ELEANOR ANSTRUTHER was born in London and now lives on a farm in Surrey with her twin boys. A Perfect Explanation is her debut novel.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
Publisher’s Marketplace’s Buzz Books/Debut Fiction
"Haunting...[a] flinty, memorable debut." —The Wall Street Journal
“Splendid...this robust story provides insight into aristocratic duties, sibling revenge, and the convoluted feelings that can arise between mothers and their children. This lush family saga will appeal to fans of Ann Patchett.” —Publishers Weekly
“Exquisitely written debut...this heart-wrenching tale provides an inside look at the inner workings of a privileged, aristocratic family that values money over everything else. Readers who follow Enid’s anguished journey will be left raw with emotion. This immersive story about family, inheritance, and motherhood is a good read-alike for Paula McLain’s historical fiction.” —Booklist
“[A] superb debut.” —Guardian
“Superbly structured and told with such conviction and in such a direct, honest, and engaging voice, this first novel is full of splendid surprises taking us into the privileged world and inner life of a woman who is both so familiar and so wonderfully strange.” —Sheila Kohler, author of Becoming Jane Eyre
“Haunting . . . Eleanor Anstruther never met [her grandmother], but she recreates her with empathy and compassion in this novel. . . Elegant and intelligent.” —The Times
“Impressive...[Anstruther] has used her imagination to bring her family vividly back to life through a novel that is both beautifully written and transfixing.” –Country Life
“[A] dark story of close relationships gone awry... elegantly told.” —Kirkus
“An extraordinary literary debut novel...Gripping, insightful and written with a breathtaking elegance and eloquence that makes this first novel doubly impressive, Anstruther’s beautifully crafted story sets out to examine and understand how the intolerable weight of expectation and responsibility can damage and destroy lives...An exquisite and powerful portrait of a broken family.” –Lancashire Post