Novel about a cult published in the UK, US and Canada by Holland House Books
How could anyone get drawn into a cult without realising?
Stef does. An overworked teacher, she questions her husband’s fidelity, but is drawn into a community on a remote Exmoor estate run by the predatory couples counsellor. Meanwhile, her grandmother, who is writing her memoir about the Hitler Youth girls in Berlin with a mixture of guilt and nostalgia, looks on helplessly as Stef descends ever further.
A novel about the abuse of power – and the acceptance of this abuse.
“Richly observed and absorbing… it builds inexorably to its moving climax.”
Bernie Crosthwaite, playwright and crime writer
In 1961 Stanley Milgram, trying to test the ‘Germans are different’ theory used to explain the Nazi Holocaust, devised an experiment on obedience at Yale University. 40 subjects of diverse age and occupation took part, believing it was an experiment on learning. An accomplice behind a wall answered questions. If the answer was incorrect or there was no answer, the subject was directed to administer electric shocks from 15 volts to 450 volts, clearly marked from ‘slight shock’ to ‘danger,’ ‘severe shock’, and XXX for the last two switches. The accomplice pounded on the wall at 300-315 volts and fell silent after. Yet 26 subjects obeyed right up to 450 volts.
“A group is an obedient herd, which could never live without a master. It has such a thirst for obedience that it submits instinctively to anyone who appoints himself its master.” Sigmund Freud
Two excerpts and Exmoor background: YouTube.
Review by Jackie Law: ‘…a devastating exploration of the abuse of power and the complicity of those who enable such abuse’ ‘…challenges the reader to consider how they would act under societal compulsion.’
Review by Jessica Patient: ‘…explores the power of manipulative communities … slowly controlling every aspect of their members’ lives,’ ‘…a novel that will keep twisting the tension until the end.’
Review by Rekha Shane: ‘Her shame all these years later at how she was brainwashed and delighted in the misery of others was horrifying and yet relatable.’
Interview by Samiha Hassan through the Mechanics’ Institute Review, asking questions about the novel and other writing matters.