The hypnotic tale of a psychological battle on unequal terms and a superbly drawn portrait of two very particular women - a beautifully written, unnerving and acutely moving debut.
Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, has a BA from Sydney University and a PhD from Cambridge University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow and won the university's prestigious Keene Prize for Literature in 2012. Her work has been published in the New Yorker, Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, The Missouri Review, and Best Australian Stories, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the Australia Council for the Arts. Her debut novel, The Night Guest, was published by Sceptre in 2014.
This debut novel stands out among the year's strongest so far, with its delicately told story of two women whose lives temporarily entwine: one an ageing widow, the other a larger-than-life carer who inveigles herself into the widow's emotional life - and home. Its cool, controlled prose explores the intersections between dementia, unreliable narration, and elderly exploitation, regarding loss, ageing and racial tension without a hint of cliche. And it's a tension-filled psychological thriller to boot, all inspiring the use of that overused phrase 'a must read'. * Independent on Sunday *
Horribly believable, The Night Guest is an impressive debut novel that sustains the tense unravelling of its mystery. * The Sunday Times *
This psychological thriller feels uneasily close to the realities many families face . . . What's real and what's imagined are terrifyingly difficult to distinguish. It's surreal and menacing. * The Times *
McFarlane exploits the vulnerably blurry boundaries of memory here to create a subtle and beguiling crescendo of suspense . . . A limpid, beautiful novel. * Daily Mail *
A witty, poetic psychological thriller in which the reader becomes so firmly embedded in Ruth's mind that one cannot help but sympathise with her confusion * Financial Times *
A powerfully distinctive narrative about identity and memory, the weight of life and the approach of death * Guardian *
Beautifully written and psychologically tense . . . extraordinarily accomplished * Sunday Express *
You wouldn't think this was a debut novel, it is so accomplished and confident . . . A witty, menacing psychological thriller * Mumsnet *