26a: A Novel

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Harper Collins, Sep 6, 2005 - Fiction - 277 pages
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A hauntingly beautiful, wickedly funny and
devastatingly moving novel of innocence
and dreams that announces the arrival of
a major new talent to the literary scene

The attic room at 26a Waifer Avenue in the lower-middle-class London neighborhood of Neasden is a sanctuary for identical twins Georgia and Bessi Hunter. It is a private universe where fantasy reigns as well as an escape from the sadness and danger that inhabit the floors below. Here the girls share nectarines and forge their identities -- planning glorious success as the Famous Flapjack Twins -- well removed from their Nigerian mother, Ida, who, devastated by homesickness, speaks to the spirits of the family she left behind on another continent. On occasion Georgia and Bessi's older sister, Bel, and younger sister, Kemy, are admitted into their broad, bright and fanciful realm, but never their English father, who nightly bathes the wounds of his own upbringing in far too much drink.

But innocence lasts for only so long -- and dreams, no matter how vivid and powerful, cannot slow the relentless incursions of the real world. Bel's transition into womanhood brings a very grown-up problem into the house that cannot be pretended away. Kemy's entire existence is redefined overnight by seductive pop-star glitter. And a terrible secret begins to threaten the twins' utopia, setting them on divergent paths toward heartrending resolutions in a world of separateness and solitude.

A work of bold, lyrical beauty, telling detail and compelling characterization -- at once cheerful and thoughtful, playful and profound -- and written in a unique prose style that metamorphoses brilliantly with the passage of time, 26a will surely be one of the most-talked-about novels of this year and many years to come, and its remarkable author, Diana Evans, welcomed gratefully into the highest order of literary achievement.

 

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Contents

Ham
3
The Wedding
18
Escape
31
Sekon
49
The Second
89
Snowgirls
91
Mr Hyde
114
Ginger
132
Selected Letters
165
The Third
177
What Is It?
179
A Cottage by a Hill
212
See You Monday
225
The Best
237
Acknowledgments
279
Copyright

Flapjacks
154

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About the author (2005)

Diana Evans has worked as a journalist and arts critic, contributing to Marie Claire, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, and The Independent. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies. She lives in London, England.

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