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Having sacked her handyman, newly widowed Mrs Emerson finds a replacement in Elizabeth, a lanky, awkward girl. The Emersons - there are seven grown-up children - have a reputation for craziness, and Elizabeth finds herself drawn into their disorderly lives against her will. But in the end it is hard to tell whether she is a victim of the needy Emersons or the de facto ruler of the family.
"Her brilliance in capturing the ripples on the surface of family life gives her a claim to be the Jane Austen of our age." (Allison Pearson, Daily Mail)