The year is 1960. The place is Burnhead, a small, unremarkable town on the west coast of Scotland where fifteen-year-old Lila lives as the third player in her parents’ dramatically embittered marriage. She dreams of escape: from Burnhead, from the damp, from her mother’s hysterics and her father’s stolidity. Salvation arrives in the form of her flamboyant, irrepressible Uncle George, a music teacher from London who decides to stage an amateur production of Puccini’s last, unfinished opera Turandot.
Lila knows nothing of opera and little of her uncle or the dashing young man he hires to sing the role of Calaf. But now, in love for the first time, she is about to blunder into a grown-up world where secrets are kept and exposed, hopes soar and wither, and where reality and fantasy collide in a moment of revelation that shatters lives forever.
‘A gripping and beautifully composed novel. It is both darkly hilarious and deeply moving.’ (Herald)
‘Sharply observed, funny and dark, Puccini's Ghosts offers a memorable account of the agonies of adolescence, and of the all too tenuous relationship between art and life.'
'With a perfect narrative that effortlessly alternates between past and present, Joss's awesome talent shines. She doesn't waste a single word in delivering one of the best books from a Scottish author this year.'