Jane Rogers has written six novels, including the award-winning Mr. Wroe's Virgins, which was a New York Times Notable Book and was dramatized as a BBC television serial, which aired on the Sundance Channel last winter. Rogers routinely writes for television and radio and teaches at Sheffield Hallam University. She lives in Lancashire, England. You can visit her website at: www.janerogers.org.
"When I was twenty-eight I decided to kill my mother." This sixth book from Rogers (Promised Lands; Mr. Wroe's Virgins) is a caustically memorable literary shocker, built tightly around its antiheroic narrator. Abandoned at birth and shuttled among foster homes around Birmingham, Nikki Black (a name she chose for herself because it had "teeth") decided in her teens to remain at a children's home rather than suffer the ministrations of hypocritical caregivers. To call her unsympathetic is putting it mildly: the grown-up Nikki hates everyone, using whomever she needs for sex, sleeping space or money, and connecting emotionally with no one. She has one purpose in life: to find her real mother (listed on her birth certificate as Phyllis Lovage), ask her why she abandoned her, and then kill her. A financial windfall lets Nikki track Phyllis down to the small, remote Scottish island of Ayssar, where she rents her spare room out to boarders. Herself dying from cancer, Phyllis makes money by selling herbal remedies; she uses the funds to care for her slightly retarded son, Calum. Nikki rents the room and conceals her identity, the better to spy on, and then slay, her motherÄand to win the affections of Calum. This novel's macabre plot is compelling enough, but Rogers's real talent lies in tone and psychologyÄin Nikki's sometimes horrifying, sometimes nearly reasonable flights of fancy, and in the asides, details, folktales and anecdotes that percolate through the main narrative. Fans of Ian McEwan should relish this stylish, charismatic addition to Britain's gallery of antiheroes. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Rogers's protagonist is a young Englishwoman who was abandoned at birth. Nikki is bright but manipulative and embittered after spending an unhappy childhood in foster care. She seeks relief from her misfortune by obsessing about killing her birth mother. Turning desire into action, Nikki locates her mother, who lives a solitary life on an isolated Scottish island. Without revealing her identity, Nikki becomes a boarder in her mother's home and plots the murder. Events take a turn when an unexpected alliance is formed between Nikki and a peculiar half-brother, who shares with her the secrets and mythology of the island. Rogers's style is crisp and spare, and the marginalized characters and sense of foreboding are reminiscent of William Trevor. From the author of Mr. Wroe's Virgins and five other novels.ÄCathleen A. Towey, Port Washington P.L., NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.