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 'Utterly captivating. An epic romp with characters you cannot help but fall in love with and a plot that takes you in all sorts of unexpected directions. Written with great heart, humour and humanity, it's the kind of book you want to escape normal life to read at every available opportunity.'

Elizabeth Day, author of Magpie

'The Whalebone Theatre has all the makings of a classic. And Cristabel Seagrave is the most gratifying hero. The war scenes often left me breathless: they are as good as you will ever read. A wonderful debut. Actually, a tour de force'

Sarah Winman, author of Still Life

‘Can there be a better proscenium arch than the salvaged ribs of a beached whale? Framed by these giant bones, Quinn’s story passes like a fabulous pageant, richly coloured and packed with incident, taking us from the lonely and orthodox Dorset childhood of the extraordinary Cristabel to the poignant aftermath of her heroic Second World War. Quinn has a sublime touch: Cristabel and her troupe are unforgettable, as riotous in comedy as they are heart-breaking in tragedy

Frances Liardet, author of We Must Be Brave

'Playful, inventive, sharp, funny, The Whalebone Theatre offers the sort of reading experience that is remarkably rare, even for those of us whose happiest hours are spent with books: sheer, undiluted delight from start to finish. Set in a big house on the Dorset coast and spanning the decades between the end of the first World War and the end of the second, it breathes fresh, bracing air into the lungs of the multi-generational saga – and the very form of the novel itself.

Few people writing today can match Quinn for the energy and precision of her prose: sentences begin boldly, proceed to hit every nail on their path, then land, gorgeously, in a totally unexpected place.

Most importantly of all, perhaps, Quinn gives us Cristabel, the sort of intelligent heroine that has been sorely missing from every other classic since Middlemarch: disinterested in marriage yet capable of immense love. It’s impossible not to be charmed by this book, its cast of characters, and Quinn’s constantly striking prose. It is both reassuringly familiar, and startlingly new. '

Susan Elderkin, author of The Novel Cure 

'The circus playfulness of the language, the old story of the great house dazzlingly refreshed, the kind heart and the witty eye, the deep understanding of a girl's need to be the hero of her own life - this is a book that will be loved unreasonably and life-long, I believe, like I Capture The Castle.'

Francis Spufford, author of Light Perpetual

'Magnificent. As capacious, surprising and magical as the whale that lends its bones to Cristabel's theatre: a tale of intertwined lives and braided fates as deftly managed and heartbreaking as a Dickens' novel.'

Rebecca Stott, Costa-winning author of In The Days of Rain

'I defy any reader not to fall in love... it transported me wholesale to another time and place and while I wandered its pages, I forgot the world for a while.' 

Wyl Menmuir, author of Fox Fire.

'Utterly immersive, heart-breaking and joyous, I just disappeared into The Whalebone Theatre and didn't want to leave.'

Jo Baker, author of Longbourn

'A beautifully written, completely immersive read that I can't quite believe is a debut. Very highly recommended.' 

The Bookseller

'So immersive and joyous and glorious. I was completely entranced.'

Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of Everyone is Still Alive

The coastpath near Osmington

Sutton Poyntz

A Dorset wood filled with wild garlic flowers


A stone sign saying Smugglers Path on a cliff edge in Dorset

Smugglers Path, White Nothe

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