The Keep, Jennifer Egan (Abacus) FICTION

Gothic, creepy, clever. Layered narratives keep you guessing. Howard aims to refurb a medieval castle and restore that period's imagination to the modern visitor. "What about people in medieval times? They saw one shitty little town their whole lives, their kids caught a cold and dropped dead, they had three teeth left in their heads by the time they hit thirty. People had to do something to shake things up or they would've keeled over from misery and boredom. So Christ came to dinner. Witches and goblins were hiding in corners. People looked at the sky and saw angels." One big sticking point in Howard's plans is the Baroness - who is holding out in the Keep. "I will never leave this place. I am this place. I am every person who has lived here for nine hundred years...The title is real. It survives hundreds of years of history...There's no such thing as noble blood in America, you're all mongrels. The oldest thing in your family closet is a tennis racket from 1955, whereas I have a thirteenth-century sarcophagus in my basement." Also droll.

pb. £7.99