The first novel from the brilliantly unconventional Nicola Barker is a tale of gambling, allergies, music and dogs, set in some of London’s less scenic locations. Chance meetings between its cast of eccentric individuals – Ruby the bookie's cashier, violently disturbed (and disturbing) Vincent, Samantha the would-be cabaret singer, wilfully sickly Sylvia and Little Buttercup the never-quite-made-it greyhound – result in the unlikeliest of couples; and there’s always the risk that it could all work out disastrously as characters select each other and try or don’t try to make winning combinations. But, as Ruby, the story’s soft-centred heroine, observes: ‘Losing, that’s the whole point of the gamble.’
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