'Completely gripping and unique'


'Moments of utter brilliance'


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About The Gift of Looking Closely

Claire believes she was manipulated, when she was sixteen, into helping her mother commit suicide. Now in her late twenties, she negotiates a complex reality. ‘I have strange thoughts; I see things I shouldn’t; my feelings bend me double.’

She uses her dead mother’s letters as a kind of oracle, her father’s dictionary to help her make sense of things – and goes on a shoplifting spree when things become unbearable. So far, she has managed to get by on her own.

But now Claire needs someone. ‘If just one person really knew me, I think it would be enough.’

And she wants that person to be you. She speaks directly off the page, challenging you to walk in her shoes:

‘You be Claire then, and I’ll watch.’

And in a breathtaking change of perspective, you step into her life.

From here, you experience it all: Having to deal with ghosts. Being caught shoplifting and sentenced to community service. Falling under the spell of the charismatic, bedridden Evie. Learning the secret at the heart of Evie’s extraordinary old house. Ultimately, learning the secret of your own past and how it has trespassed on the present.


Bursting with ideas and life, seamed with beautifully crafted language and startling imagery, innovative without being pretentious, The Gift of Looking Closely offers a vivid and sensual reading experience. You will never have read anything quite like it.


About the author

Al Brookes has been a freelance writer for the past 30 years. The Gift of Looking Closely is her first novel. Read more...