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How to Measure a Cow
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Tara Fraser leaves London to start a new life in a Cumbrian town selected at random. She plans to obliterate her past, which contains a shocking event that had serious consequences, by becoming a completely different personality from her previous volatile self. She is going to be quiet, even dull, and very private. But one of her new neighbours, Nancy, is intrigued by her. She wants to become her friend. Equally determined not to be discarded are three old friends who Tara feels let her down when she most needed them. Tara fights to keep herself to herself, but can she do it? And does she really want to? Slowly, reluctantly, she discovers the dangers of trying to suppress the past and reject other people.
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Can we ever really re-invent ourselves, start again, or will the past catch up with us wherever we hide?

About the Author

Born in Carlisle, Margaret Forster was the author of many successful and acclaimed novels, including Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, Is There Anything You Want? , Keeping the World Away, Over and The Unknown Bridesmaid. She also wrote bestselling memoirs u Hidden Lives, Precious Lives and, most recently, My Life in Houses u and biographies. She was married to writer and journalist Hunter Davies and lived in London and the Lake District. She died in February 2016, just before her last novel, How to Measure a Cow, was published.

Reviews

"The work of a novelist in her prime... The narrative is taut and suspenseful, the characterization complex and dynamic." -- Stevie Davies Guardian "Brilliantly drawn... Atmosphere and characters linger long after the novel ends" Sunday Times "Deft, intriguing and gripping. Forster never disappoints." -- Kate Williams Woman & Home "This is Margaret Forster's last novel, sadly, and it's full of reminders of what made her such a shrewd and arresting chronicler of women's lives" -- Hephzibah Anderson Mail on Sunday "An exemplary final work ... wonderfully well-observed" -- D.J. Taylor The Times "It is Forster's acute scrutiny of the economy of friendship that hooks." -- Stephanie Cross Observer "Her simple, direct prose never strikes a false note" -- Lucy Popescu Independent on Sunday "Amply displays her formidable talent as a storyteller, undiminished to the end, and her marvellous ability to anatomise the lives of her characters while still enabling them to emerge fully realised in the reader's imagination... The novel is a rich inquiry into the nature of friendship... Forster is, as ever, brilliant at the telling details that illuminate her characters' inner lives... A fine last novel by an outstanding writer, it will disappoint neither longstanding admirers nor newcomers to Forster's work. Above all, it is a novel about the abiding human need to love and to be loved, a need that Forster makes clear is beyond measurement." -- Rebecca Abrams Financial Times "Forster is very good at the slow reveal, gradually illuminating the more questionable aspects of Tara's character as well as the crime that changed her life. She's also brilliant on the complexities of ordinary people, particularly women: the little ways they deceive themselves, their quickness to judge and their clumsy determination to be kind" -- Claire Allfree Daily Mail "Quietly compelling." Sunday Times "Margaret Forster writes the most amazing prose, tight without a superfluous word and still with the ability to convey crystal clear images to the reader... She weaves loyalty, betrayal, friendship, honour and honesty with wonderful characterisation into an absorbing story." -- Sheila A. Grant Nudge "Characters are cleverly drawn and the north/south divide well depicted" -- Vanessa Berridge Daily Express

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