Puccini’s Ghosts

cover_puccini1It is the summer of 1960 and fifteen-year-old Lila, set free from the confines of school, finds herself no less a prisoner in the damp house on Scotland’s west coast where she lives with her unhappy parents. She dreams of escape: from the small and unremarkable town of Burnhead, from her mother’s hysterics, her father’s stolidity, and their loveless marriage. Salvation arrives in the form of her beloved Uncle George, a music teacher from London whose preposterous summer project is to stage an amateur production of Puccini’s Turandot. Lila, in love for the first time, maps out a future for herself in which reality and fantasy fuse dangerously. Fifty years later she returns to Burnhead to bury her father, and is waylaid by memories that cast her again under the spell of the opera that changed her life.

‘The story of Lila’s getting-of-wisdom is powerfully told, bristling with tension and horribly funny.’
The Times

‘Morag Joss’s contribution to the coming-of-age genre is remarkable in its astuteness, humour and eloquence . . . mesmerizing.’
Scotland on Sunday

A gripping and beautifully composed novel.  It is both darkly hilarious and deeply moving… The agony and ecstasy of a teenage crush are conveyed with poignant accuracy…  Well-observed and blackly funny.’
Scottish Herald

‘With a perfect narrative that effortlessly alternates between past and present, Joss’s awesome talent shines.  She doesn’t waste a single word in delivering one of the best books from a Scottish author this year.’
Scottish Daily Record

‘Joss writes with a vividness that captures exactly particular moods and atmospheres.  The darkness of her main themes, the sense of impending catastrophe that hangs over the story, is relieved by a lightness of touch – and the combined result is a very fine novel indeed.’
Sunday Herald

‘[Joss] is excellent at portraying a child’s loss of innocence and the desperation of those who find themselves trapped in a small Scottish town.  It will be very interesting to see what she does next.’

‘Sharply observed, funny and dark … a memorable account of the agonies of adolescence and of the all too tenuous relationship between art and life.’
Sunday Times

Go to top of page