Fiction hidden knowledge

Published on June 30th, 2014


Hidden Knowledge by Bernadine Bishop

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Blurb: Accused of child abuse, Father Roger Tree confesses at once; it masks a darker secret. Meanwhile his sister Romola faces a future without their beloved brother, the novelist Hereward Tree. Can she live with the ending of his last book? And then there is Hereward’s much younger lover, Carina, who takes fate into her own hands. But it is Betty Winterborne, forced to re-examine the death of her son Mark twenty years before, who has the courage to face the truth. (Sceptre, June 2014)

Margaret Drabble, The Observer

“The subtlety and insight with which Bishop explores paedophilia and clerical abuse are exemplary. Through her moral balance and literary expertise, an untouchable subject becomes comprehensible, at times even funny: the correspondence between Father Rog and his beleaguered friend Bishop Pip outdoes Muriel Spark and Evelyn Waugh in high Catholic comedy, yet has no touch of malice or frivolity.”

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Claire Lowdon, The Sunday Times

“It is rare to read a modern novel that tells you the thoughts of several characters in a single paragraph: 21st-century writers mostly choose the safety of third-person focalised, or the guaranteed cool of the unreliable first person. But both of Bishop’s recent novels ignore this vogue in a quietly radical way. Making full use of her psychotherapy expertise, she  employs a confident omniscient voice to navigate the inner lives of large casts of characters. She is also fond of plot. There is plenty of it in both books, but in Hidden Knowledge it is more refined, with the novel’s largest coincidence leading, brilliantly, nowhere.”

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Hephzibah Anderson, The Daily Mail

“While she resists sensationalism, she also fails to satisfactorily address the priest’s motivations, for instance, and relies overly on reported discussions with shrinks to convey the inner lives of others. It’s a testament to her deft storytelling that this isn’t more of a problem. In fact, it dovetails with the novel’s theme, which is expressed succinctly by Alex’s mother: ‘You don’t necessarily know the people you love.’

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Fiona Wilson, The Times

There are too many plots that went nowhere. But on the core narrative — on Roger and his crime — Bishop writes with insight and patience. Remarkably, she also manages humour…

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