Carmela Ciuraru
August 08, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Troublesome ghosts are ubiquitous in Helen Dunmore’s novel, Talking to the Dead, winner of England’s Orange Prize for fiction. Two sisters, Nina and Isabel, are haunted by the death of their infant brother, Colin. The memory of this tragedy intensifies when Isabel gives birth to a son: Gazing upon him, Nina reflects that without a sibling, Antony has ”no one to cover up for, and no one to betray.” Indeed, buried beneath the sisters’ seeming closeness are layers of jealousy, cruelty, and duplicity. Which sister was driven to murder their baby brother? Truth proves slippery in this startling novel — you’ll find yourself anxious right up to its bitter, heartbreaking conclusion. A

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