Study For Obedience, by Sarah Bernstein (Granta 2023)

Neil's picture

I found this mysterious, perplexing novel unsettling, but frustratingly opaque. It's about a women who moves to an isolated northern country, where her ancestors were from, and her brother has returned to. She's needed as his caregiver. The locals don't welcome her, in fact they seem disturbed by her presence; and inexplicable events occur. The country seems to have a violent and contentious history, which she may be seen as complicit in. It's a lyrical novel, almost a prose poem, and there are moments of great power and intensity. It explores power, dislocation and empowerment, and sinister events just out of reach. A very strange little book.