Suffused with the same tantalising intensity as Picnic at Hanging Rock, it’s the time-slip narrative of three sisters who went missing in the summer of 1992, and the quest of their now-adult school friend, Tikka, whose life has been clouded by the tragedy, to understand what happened to them. Hannah, Ruth and the unsettlingly beautiful Cordelia are the daughters of Christian zealots, and the two older sisters are desperate to leave their oppressive home. As in Picnic at Hanging Rock, there’s plenty of barely suppressed sexual hysteria – most of it coming from Mr Van Apfel. Although the adults in the community are uneasily aware of the danger signs, they fail to intervene, and it’s not until Tikka attempts to piece things together that they begin to talk about what they’ve seen. A coming-of-age drama as much as a crime story, this isn’t a book for those who like things wrapped up neatly, but readers who enjoy something haunting, atmospheric and genuinely mysterious have a treat in store.
"One Booker shortlist later, Galley Beggar were proved correct. Ellmann’s novel isn’t perfect, and it may not take the prize, but in a world where Ian McEwan is still at large, something introspective and richly painted is a tonic for us all...."
— The Daily Telegraph
4.25 out of 5