This was the top-prize-winning novel from 20,000 entries in one of the richest literary awards ever offered in Britain. Its convoluted and colorful plot turns on questions of heredity and atavism: the ancestry of the Waring twin brothers and of Elma Clifford. Elma comes on her mother’s side from a line of gypsy snake dancers, and she displays a periodic urge to dance wildly with a feather boa in her bedroom. A murderous judge, multiple mistaken identities and scenes of tribal life in South Africa decorate this extraordinary novel, which is certainly a testament to Grant Allen’s versatility and grasp of the popular market.
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