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book cover of A Bear with an Egg in Her Paws

A Bear with an Egg in Her Paws

A novel by

Had she been a bear with an egg in her paws, a jeweller who had just found the Koh-I-Noor, had she been a fisherman who in ancient times mistakenly brought up the first pineapple or a starved man presented with a brandy-snap or a forester with the last-existing acorn, she could not in her clumsy hands have held more tenderly nor nursed more gently her new-born son.

So begins Charlotte Fairbairn's romantic-with-a-capital-R debut novel, which centres around Clara, child, young girl and new mother, and tells the stories of her flamboyant, unfaithful, Byronic father Freddie, her beautiful, melancholy mother Meriel, her unconventional great aunt Lily, and their respective houses. It's a novel born out of privilege. The three houses in and around which the mistily dreamlike narrative unfolds: the Knock, the House of Cranlarrigan, and the Round House, all verge on the stately, with massive grounds, explored and gardened by succeeding generations of children and adults. Although all the characters suffer their fair share of problems, these are all relationship-related. Finances are never mentioned, never an issue. Careers are alluded to, but never defined: work, to the characters of this novel, seems to be something unmentionable, and seemingly--for all of them apart from Clara's lover "the builder-of-dreams" whose vocational dedication seems incomprehensible to Clara--optional.

If you like your prose to be determinedly poetic and your stories to feature beautiful-yet-suffering people floating through a dreamscape of wildflowers and ruins, you'll love this. If, however, you believe that authors should ration their use of adjectives, and your choice of reality extends beyond the world of the minor aristocracy, you may not. --Lisa Gee


Used availability for Charlotte Fairbairn's A Bear with an Egg in Her Paws

Paperback Editions

September 1999 : UK Paperback

Title: A Bear with an Egg in Her Paws
Author(s): Charlotte Fairbairn
ISBN: 0-7544-0099-9 / 978-0-7544-0099-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Citron Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK