(British, 1962– )
A mother and her young child are at the centre of Dawson's first two novels. In Trick of the Light (1996), Rita and Mick move from inner London to a remote, forested area of Washington State, and Rita struggles to protect their daughter as Mick becomes increasingly violent. Here, the dangers and attraction of wilderness are beautifully evoked. In Magpie (1998), Lily and her young son are in London after the fire that destroys their Yorkshire home, and Lily tries to deal with her son's sullen rages and attacks of biting, whilst adjusting to life as a single parent and the halting relationship she forms with a neighbour. In both novels the mother-child relationship is powerfully drawn, full of pain and frustration, as well as clear-eyed, unsentimental love. In Fred and Edie (2000; shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize) Edith Thompson and Fred Bywaters are in prison pending trial for the murder of Edith's husband Percy. Based on a true story, their love affair and the circumstances surrounding the murder are reconstructed through a series of deeply affecting letters and reminiscences.
Maggie O'Farrell, Lesley Glaister JR