Lex, the Girl A of the title, is successful lawyer who survived a horrific upbringing in northern England, her home dubbed the "House of Horrors" by the press. Her father committed suicide before he could be arrested, but her mother was convicted of terrible crimes against her children and has now died in prison, bequeathing Lex and her six siblings the family home. Lex must now make contact with her adult siblings-all were adopted by different families. Absolutely gripping, this is also more nuanced and emotionally complex than a brief synopsis might suggest.
The writing is clean and compelling, the choices interesting and fully fleshed out. The flashbacks are upsetting but not torture porn. More affecting are things in the outside world Alexandra cannot understand: why people would ever stop eating at a buffet; why they wouldn’t enjoy being in hospital, or why the nurse has to keep her face turned away.
It seems odd to describe such a book as profoundly entertaining, but stories have always dealt in gore and death and this is no exception. It’s terrific: finally, an Oxbridge graduate succeeding in doing something really, really well.
It was Lex, the protagonist of Abigail Dean’s debut Girl A... whose escape fromher parents’ “house of horrors” as a child led to the freeing of her chained-up siblings, her monstrous father’s suicide and her mother’s arrest. Now a New York lawyer, she returns to the UK to oversee the family home’s conversion into a community centre, a project necessitating visits to her fellow survivors to get their consent. These encounters allow Dean to reveal gradually the grisly denouement of the children’s shared ordeal in a novel that’s psychologically astute, adroitly organised and written with flair. In the traditional new year battle between much touted first thrillers it’s the clear winner.
A powerful read. Lex Gracie — Girl A — survived a horrifying childhood in what was dubbed the House of Horrors by the media. Having known no other way to live, she and her siblings scrabble to make it through life after escaping form the nightmare. This astonishing debut has quite rightly been snapped up for TV.