Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Sheep's clothing (Dale) 424

Sheep's clothing by Celia Dale is definitely not a run of the mill Virago Modern Classic. No aristocratic families, no tales of a poor working class childhood, no women finding themselves. Rather this is a distinctly shocking story of two women who are employed in defrauding elderly pensioners. It's a subtle book, but ultimately a bit of a suburban terror story, showing that crime and evil deeds can lurk behind ordinary exteriors.

The two main characters pretend to be women from social services, bearing the good news that the person that they are visiting is entitled to a bonus payment. Tea is made in celebration. The pensioner suddenly finds that she has fallen asleep and the pair of women have left. Later on, it transpires that many of her personal possessions have been stolen. But she is too embarassed to report it. The pair get away with this again and again. The story resolves itself, but not how one might expect, and as I am keen to recommend this book I won't say anything more at this stage.

I was quite intrigued by this book and found that although there are no other VMCs by Dale, Faber Finds have republished A dark corner and A helping hand. It seems from the synopsis that Dale's speciality is telling stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary and wicked things within the remit of modern society, and I am definitely going to look out more of this slightly unsettling writing. This book was only published once by Virago with the above cover.



  1. intriguing indeed
    thanks for sharing

  2. Haven't read anything by Dale, but am definitely going to try reading this! Sounds fantastic.

  3. Verity this sounds fascinating and totalyl outside the normal VMC brand... I think I will order and have a go as I am fascinated to see how the author treats the women (I mean the fraudsters not the victims)....

    Lovely review thanks for sharing


  4. Oh this does sound very different from the usual Virago fare! Very intriguing, Verity! I'll keep an eye out for this!

  5. Martine - intriguing is a good word!

    Another cookie - I've read some more Dale now and she continues to intrigue..

    Hannah - it was fascinating to read something so different from the run of the mill VMCs - the series never fails to surprise.

    Rachel - yes, very different. Hope you spot it soon!