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Every family has its secrets. The mysterious death of her great aunt led Heather Spears to the Scottish village of Kirkfieldbank and its reputedly haunted house, Annville. In The Flourish she brings the nineteenth century town to life: its atmosphere: its people and their language, its gripping history – with authenticity and sometimes shocking realism. Charlotte Spears arrives from Glasgow to mind her Uncle’s house and teach music. As a single, independent woman, she comes under criticism and finds her private life scrutinized. When her cousin falls ill and returns to Annville to be nursed, Charlotte is forced into a choice between duty and desire, with fatal consequences.

The Flourish
Ekstasis Editions, 2003-2004
ISBN 1894800362
Box 8474, Main Postal Outlet, Victoria BC Canada V8W 3S1

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The Flourish has been likened to Capote’s In Cold Blood, with its crime-tabloid energy and unspecified, floating sexual tension attaching itself, dangerously, and pervasively, to senseless murder. A more likely precursor is Henry James' Turn of the Screw with its fusion of the gothic and the nascent psychoanalytic, linking dark sexual undertones and unspecified menace. The primness and reserve of the society is so extreme it is almost pathological. Yet Spears conveys how vivid was the sense of temptation (and sex) everywhere.

Beyond its page-turning potency, The Flourish has richness and intelligence as a work of art, - for example in Spears’ treatment of the deterioration of Charlotte’s younger cousin Willy, whose failing health feeds much of the anxiety and foreboding that drive the narrative. Although providing some information about the probable cause of his decline, Spears lets us see Willy’s malady as an immense, sinister mystery, as it was to people then, and how they looked to the church for meaning and reassurance in the face of nameless dread. While these and other themes play out there is a resonant, unstoppable drive towards the horror of the murder itself. It is gripping and fateful; we see it coming, we can’t look away.
- Steve Bridger

"Unforgettable! It held me in a velvet vice so that I could not rest until I reached its tragic climax."
- Elisabeth Sutherland, The Scots Magazine, Summer 2004

"...amazingly real .. a triumph .. it rolls irresistably along. I couldn't put it down.... It held me in an iron grip until I finished it .. .an elegantly understated, and painful tale!" - Jay Macpherson


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