(British, 1940– )
Elspeth Barker is the author of the highly acclaimed O Caledonia (1991), a modern-day murder mystery centring on the emotional disintegration of Janet, an unloved and isolated teenager who moves with her family to the harsh, uncompromising society of Caledonia. The novel begins with the discovery of Janet's corpse underneath the stairs in her family's dilapidated castle, and ranges back over her childhood and adolescence, examining her life in an attempt to identify her killer. Barker's tone is grimly satirical. Her interest is in the relationship of the individual to society, and in the lasting psychological effects of childhood damage. O Caledonia won the David Higham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel award.
Muriel Spark, Hilary Mantel SR