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Bring me the good scrub

Clare Bucknell: ‘Birnam Wood’, 4 May 2023

Birnam Wood 
by Eleanor Catton.
Granta, 423 pp., £20, March, 978 1 78378 425 7
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... Eleanor Catton’s​ characters enjoy playing other people. Mira Bunting, the twenty-something founder of Birnam Wood, an activist gardening collective, maintains a ‘rotation’ of aliases for undercover purposes. To glean information about a property listing in the small town of Thorndike in New Zealand, she transforms – via a fake email account – into Mrs June Crowther, a plausible-sounding boomer, ‘68, retired, and profoundly deaf’, who hopes to invest her ‘modest nest egg’ in a low-maintenance holiday home ...

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