Mitchison weaves a realist political novel about the lives of two upper-middle class women in 1930s Britain with abstract forays into Scottish folklore as the kelpies follow the sisters, haunting their modern activities. Sometimes the dialogue is stilted, and reads as thinly-veiled politics rather than the high literature found elsewhere in Mitchison’s oeuvre. But, in spite of these shortcomings, the novel has much to offer a reader, and particularly one reading from post-referendum Scotland. Even those who have never read a Mitchison novel before will find much to admire and celebrate in this complicated book. The politics of Mitchison’s novel, which covers the debates between communism and socialism, and between socialism and feminism, often read as relevant to modern debates and Mitchison’s forward-thinking attitude to birth control and abortion might mean that the novel would still be banned if it were published today, particularly in certain American schools
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