Annal: 1992 Whitbread Book Award for Novel

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 1992.

Book:Poor Things

Poor Things: Episodes from the Early Life of Archibald McCandless M.D., Scottish Public Health Officer

Alasdair Gray

With its tantalizing reminders of Mary Shelley, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Lewis Carroll, this is an up-todate nineteenth-century novel, informed by a thoroughly twentieth-century sensibility.

Set in and around Glasgow and the Mediterranean in the early 1880s, it describes the love lives of two Scottish doctors and a twenty-five-year-old woman who has been created by one of them from human remains. A story of true love and scientific daring, it whirls the reader from the private operating rooms of late-Victorian Glasgow through aristocratic casinos, low-life Alexandria, and a Parisian bordello, reaching an interrupted climax in a Scottish church. It contains many unsanctified weddings, but hardly any perversions, and, as the Spectator put it, “an unexpected final twist doesn’t make the novel seem trivial but, on the contrary, gives the vivid melodrama a retrospective gravity. You become aware that this odd book has been a great deal more than entertaining only on finishing it. Then your strongest desire is to start reading it again.”

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