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The Professor of Poetry

Grace McCleen

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Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

Praised as 'astonishing and luminous' by Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel, The Professor of Poetry is a dazzling novel from the acclaimed author of The Land of Decoration.

Elizabeth Stone, a respected academic, has a new lease on life. In remission from cancer, she returns to the city where she was a student over thirty years ago to investigate some little-known papers by T. S. Eliot, which she believes contain the seeds of her masterpiece: a masterpiece that centres on a poem given to her when she was eighteen by the elusive Professor Hunt...

But as the days pass in the city she loves, and her friendship with Professor Hunt is rekindled, her memories return her to a time shadowed by loneliness, longing and quiet despair, and to an undeclared but overwhelming love. Paralysed by the fear of writing something worthless, haunted by a sense of waste, Elizabeth Stone comes to realise she is facing the biggest test of her life.

As in her acclaimed debut The Land of Decoration, Grace McCleen gives an intense evocation of place, an unflinching portrayal of a character by turns comic, absurd, and disturbing, and a powerful sense of the transcendent within the ordinary. Profound and hypnotic, The Professor of Poetry devastates even as it exhilarates and echoes long after it has been closed.

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Grace McCleen

Grace McCleen's first novel, The Land of Decoration, was published in 2012 and awarded the Desmond Elliott Prize for the best first novel of the year. It was also shortlisted for the National Book Award, chosen for Richard & Judy's Book Club, won the 2013 Betty Trask Prize and has been translated into nineteen languages. Grace read English at the University of Oxford and has an MA from York, and currently lives in London.

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