Christopher Priest

The Quiet Woman


Cosmos, 2005 [ISBN 0 809 51063 4, paperback 9.00; pp.186]. First published in the UK in 1990 by Bloomsbury. Translations also exist. Cosmos's new paperback is the first US edition, and is available as print-on-demand in the UK and elsewhere.

What they say

"A rivetting study of personal and institutional paranoia, with a disturbing undercurrent of perverse eroticism, Priest's narrative is as insidious as radiation sickness; the initial symptoms are tiny, almost ignorable, but once it takes hold the effects are devastating" - Time Out

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After a Chernobyl-like accident at a fast breeder reactor on the north coast of France, Britain is shrouded in radioactive fall-out. When her best friend is murdered, a young writer is forced to make sense of the deadly world she now occupies.

This is one of Chris Priest's lesser-known novels, originally published in misleading "mainstream" colours. Although a later paperback from Abacus made some amends, the first edition was not distributed or publicized well. It is one of CP's infrequent forays into satire: a sardonic view of life in Britain under the philistine rule of Thatcher and the Tories, through the 1980s and early 1990s.

The new edition has been re-edited for Cosmos, with some scenes shortened, others made more detailed.