Siân Hughes
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SKU: 9781911648529 Category:

11 May 2023
ISBN 978-1911648529
Cover design © Luke Bird
224 pages
B Format Paperback with Flaps

Marianne is eight years old when her mother goes missing.

Left behind with her baby brother and grieving father in a ramshackle house on the edge of a small village, she clings to the fragmented memories of her mother’s love; the smell of fresh herbs, the games they played, and the songs and stories of her childhood.

As time passes, Marianne struggles to adjust, fixated on her mother’s disappearance and the secrets she’s sure her father is keeping from her. Discovering a medieval poem called Pearl and trusting in its promise of consolation, Marianne sets out to make a visual illustration of it, a task that she returns to over and over but somehow never manages to complete.

Tormented by an unmarked gravestone in an abandoned chapel and the tidal pull of the river, her childhood home begins to crumble as the past leads her down a path of self-destruction. But can art heal Marianne? And will her own future as a mother help her find peace?


‘Siân Hughes’s voice moves us because she manages the difficult art of putting wit to the service of strong feeling – a rare achievement.’
Hugo Williams

‘Haunting, compelling, beautifully written; translates mythic and literary undercurrents into a modern setting.’
Bernard O’Donoghue

‘An utterly gripping psychological mystery.’
—Maureen Freely

‘A ghost story, a folk story, a story of loss and familial haunting, Sian Hughes’ Pearl is an enchanting and eerie exploration of how a child lays down the bones of an ancient past – a medieval poem – as a means of recuperating the voice of lost loved ones. A story about how we tell stories in the face of yawning gaps and deep sorrow.’
—Sally Bayley

‘It’s a beautiful, searching novel from start to finish – vividly told and movingly elegiac in its unfolding understanding of the psychology of loss. A terrific achievement.’
—Jane Draycott

About the author

Siân Hughes is a writer who grew in up a small village in Cheshire where the story of Pearl is set. Returning to live there after her mother’s death, she borrowed from the medieval poem Pearl to write a story set in an old house she cycled past every day as a child.

Her first collection of poetry The Missing (Salt, 2009) was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, shortlisted for the Felix Dennis and Aldeburgh prizes, and won the Seamus Heaney Award. 

Pearl is her first novel.

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