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Beginner’s Pluck

CAMILLA MACPHERSON

When Camilla Macpherson was at university, she won two short story competitions, but then she became a lawyer.

"I always wanted to write a novel, so in 2007 I took a year’s sabbatical to write. My first novel was shortlisted for a Daily Mail competition, but it didn’t get published, so I started to work on this second one. I got an agent the day my daughter was born."

Who is Camilla Macpherson?

Date of birth: Oct 1, 1976, in Bristol.

Education: Roedean. Oxford University, Classics.

Home: Islington, London.

Family: Canadian husband, Kevin, and daughter Freya, 2.

The Day Job: Litigation lawyer, three days a week.

Hobbies: "I don’t have time for hobbies, but I do like baking with my daughter."

Favourite Writers: F Scott Fitzgerald; Anne Tyler; and the novel, Winter in Madrid by CJ Samson.

Second Novel: "I’m kicking around ideas, and trying to find some time to write."

Top Writing Tip: "Persistence and postage. You have to write every day, and if you want to get published, you have to keep sending letters and be dedicated about finding an agent."

Web: www.camillamacpherson.com Twitter: @camillaMacphers

THE DEBUT

Pictures at an Exhibition; Arrow, €10.55; Kindle, €7.74.

Claire’s new marriage has run into trouble. She’s grieving after a late miscarriage, and can’t see a way through. Then she finds some wartime letters. Daisy writes to her cousin every month. She talks of a masterpiece in the National Gallery, and how the paintings sparked new love in her life. Intrigued, Claire looks for the same paintings, and soon Daisy’s life feels more real than her own.

But does she risk losing everything important? "I went on a walking tour around London with my husband. It concentrated on the second world war. And the guide said that The National Gallery put the pictures into store, but brought one out each month for the public to view. As soon as she said that, I knew I had my novel."

The Verdict: Stunning. The best debut I’ve read all year.