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A mysterious depiction of masked revellers at the Venice carnival hangs in the college rooms of Oliver's old professor in Cambridge. On this cold night, its eerie secret is revealed by the ageing don. The dark art of the Venetian scene has the power to entrap life. To stare into the painting is to play dangerously with the unseen demons it hides.
Susan Hill has been a prolific writer since 1963. She was a presenter of BBC Radio 4's Bookshelf. She has won the Somerset Maugham Award (for I'm the King of the Castle); the Whitbread Novel Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Her sequel to Rebecca, Mrs de Winter, was a big bestseller and her short story The Woman in Black has been hugely successful in the West End. She is the author of a highly successful crime series published by Chatto & Windus. Bloomsbury will be publishing her latest children's story this year. She lives in Gloucestershire.