Study for Obedience (Hardback)Sarah Bernstein (author)
With extraordinary emotional sensitivity, the 2023 Granta Best of Young British Novelists alumnae Sarah Bernstein paints a sinister, haunting portrait of hostility and disquiet as a woman returns to her wealthy but often absent brother as his housekeeper.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2023
A powerful, compressed masterwork for fans of Shirley Jackson and Claire-Louise Bennett
A woman moves from the place of her birth to a remote northern country to be housekeeper to her brother, whose wife has just left him. The youngest child of many siblings - more than she cares to remember - from earliest childhood she has attended to their every desire, smoothed away the slightest discomfort with perfect obedience, with the highest degree of devotion.
The country, it transpires, is the country of their family's ancestors, an obscure though reviled people. Soon after she arrives, a series of unfortunate events occurs - collective bovine hysteria; the demise of a ewe and her nearly-born lamb; a local dog's phantom pregnancy; the containment of domestic fowl; a potato blight. She notices that the local suspicion about incomers in general seems to be directed particularly in her case. What is clear is that she is being accused of wrongdoing, but in a language she cannot understand and so cannot address. And however diligently and silently she toils in service of the community, still she feels their hostility growing, pressing at the edges of her brother's property.
Inside the house, although she tends to her brother and his home with the utmost care and attention, he too begins to fall ill...
Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 281 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 14 mm
'Study for Obedience is a fully absorbing, beautiful and sinister portrait of becoming and unbelonging, of violence held in time and place, that enriches the reader's habitation of the world's intelligibility and its darkness' - David Hayden
'Sarah Bernstein manages to combine cool, perfectly weighted prose with an extraordinary emotional sensibility' - Fiona Mozley
'Sarah Bernstein's Study for Obedience is at once a languid and sometimes harrowing journey into the truth of human animals living in a small community and the need for a woman to give voice to the strange and beautiful cruelties of life. This is a unique novel that is primal and eerie, where language creates silence and vivid images reflect a kind of earthiness where our most intimate selves live. The wide praise for Bernstein's remarkable writing is well earned.' - Asale Angel-Ajani, author of A Country You Can Leave
You may also be interested in...
A wonderfully baffling book, all atmosphere and nuance, leaving precious little to grip on to. I adore the vagueness of it, the ethereality. It’s a shadow spotted through the trees on a moonlit night, seen at a glance... More
“A contemplative curiosity.”
A woman travels to an unnamed country to keep house for, and serve, her older brother who is a successful man of some standing in the small community. She is meek and obedient to an extreme degree, having always been... More
Please sign in to write a review
Would you like to proceed to the App store to download the Waterstones App?