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  • Published: 3 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781473523845
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

How to Measure a Cow

The gripping final novel from the much-loved & bestselling Margaret Forster

'Compelling.taut and suspenseful' Guardian

Tara Fraser has a secret.

Desperate to escape herself and her past, she changes her name, packs up her London home and moves to a town in the North of England where she knows no one.

But one of her new neighbours, Nancy, is intrigued by her. And as hard as Tara tries to distance herself, she starts to drop her guard.

Then a letter arrives. An old friend wants to meet up. Struggling to keep her old life at bay, Tara soon discovers the dangers of fighting the past.

  • Published: 3 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781473523845
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

About the author

Margaret Forster

Born in Carlisle, Margaret Forster was the author of many successful and acclaimed novels, including Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, IsThere Anything You Want?, Keeping the World Away, Over and The Unknown Bridesmaid. She also wrote bestselling memoirs – Hidden Lives, Precious Lives and, most recently, My Life in Houses – and biographies. She was married to writer and journalist Hunter Davies and lived in London and the Lake District. She died in February 2016, just before her last novel, How to Measure a Cow, was published.

Also by Margaret Forster

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Praise for How to Measure a Cow

The work of a novelist in her prime… The narrative is taut and suspenseful, the characterization complex and dynamic.

Stevie Davies, Guardian

Brilliantly drawn… Atmosphere and characters linger long after the novel ends

Sunday Times

Deft, intriguing and gripping. Forster never disappoints.

Kate Williams, Woman & Home

This is Margaret Forster's last novel, sadly, and it's full of reminders of what made her such a shrewd and arresting chronicler of women’s lives

Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

An exemplary final work … wonderfully well-observed

D.J. Taylor, The Times

It is Forster’s acute scrutiny of the economy of friendship that hooks.

Stephanie Cross, Observer

Her simple, direct prose never strikes a false note

Lucy Popescu, Independent on Sunday

Amply displays her formidable talent as a storyteller, undiminished to the end, and her marvellous ability to anatomise the lives of her characters while still enabling them to emerge fully realised in the reader’s imagination… The novel is a rich inquiry into the nature of friendship… Forster is, as ever, brilliant at the telling details that illuminate her characters’ inner lives… A fine last novel by an outstanding writer, it will disappoint neither longstanding admirers nor newcomers to Forster’s work. Above all, it is a novel about the abiding human need to love and to be loved, a need that Forster makes clear is beyond measurement.

Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times

Forster is very good at the slow reveal, gradually illuminating the more questionable aspects of Tara's character as well as the crime that changed her life. She's also brilliant on the complexities of ordinary people, particularly women: the little ways they deceive themselves, their quickness to judge and their clumsy determination to be kind

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

Quietly compelling.

Sunday Times

Margaret Forster writes the most amazing prose, tight without a superfluous word and still with the ability to convey crystal clear images to the reader… She weaves loyalty, betrayal, friendship, honour and honesty with wonderful characterisation into an absorbing story.

Sheila A. Grant, Nudge

Characters are cleverly drawn and the north/south divide well depicted

Vanessa Berridge, Daily Express

Margaret Forster…excelled at writing about complex relationships between women… Forster’s skill is to show how very different characters shift and develop according to what life throws at them.

Elisa Segrave, Spectator

A more nuanced take on the potential recuperative powers of the rural environment than many others novels written in this vein.

Lucy Scholes, Countryfile

The first five chapters of Forester’s novel are a remarkable exercise in withholding and revelation by minute increments… There is much in it to admire, from the distinctive resonance of her deceptively plain style to her descriptions of landscape.

Jane Shilling, New Statesman

Margaret Forster is excellent at painting the picture and her dialogue is always A1.

Deirdre Spendlove, Nudge

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