Virtue, by Serena Mackesy



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"When I met Harriet, I had been dying, bit by bit, for seventeen years. Harriet Moresby saved my life. And I don't just mean the time she did it literally."

Godiva Fawcett: actress, beauty, philanthropist; her high-profile death was the cause of hysterical national mourning and her mausoleum is still a place of pilgrimage for her legion of fans. Grace Waters: celebrated child genius, double-Nobel prizewinner and unreconstructed bitch. When their daughters, the bereaved and angry Harriet and the hothoused, isolated Anna, meet, it's instant recognition and a form of salvation for each of them.

But when Godiva's corpse is accidentally exhumed – and turns out to be uncorrupted – fifteen years after her death, the two find themselves sucked into a media feeding frenzy and a web of emerging secrets and lies that threatens to destroy them both.

This was my second novel. I wanted to do something about the cult of celebrity, the grim realities that often lurk behind public perceptions and the grave consequences of blind obedience. Anna and Harriet are my favourites of the characters I have created so far: needy and damaged but struggling gutsily against their defects. A friend once described it to me as "everything that's bad about being good and everything that's good about being bad" and I think that's about the size of it. SM

What the press said

"Best of all is Mackesy's ear for social comedy…"
The Independent

"Written with the confidence of someone who's already had a bestseller, this is the cautionary tale of Harriet and Anna and their infamous mothers. Harriet's was a film star turned charity worker and Diana-esque saint, Anna's is a cold-hearted genius. But the girls have opted out of public life to crack whips as novelty waitresses.

When Harriet's mother returns to haunt her and Anna's drops a bombshell, they're caught up in a thrilling, funny but very thoughtful caper."
The Mirror

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