Sunday Times

Madam ★★★★ Phoebe Wynne, Quercus, R355

- Gabriella Bekes

Rose, a young Classics teacher, accepts a post as head of department at Caldonbrae Hall, a 150-year-old boarding school for young ladies in a Gothic castle on a remote Scottish peninsula. When she arrives she finds she has a lot to learn about the arcane traditions of the school. She learns she is the only new appointmen­t in years and that her predecesso­r left under a cloud. She is shadowed by a strange pupil who is obsessed by the former Classics teacher and spits vitriol at Rose whenever she confronts her. As the end of her probation period approaches, Rose uncovers the secrets that underpin the institutio­n’s foundation. The school is like Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave. An original and absorbing book.

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