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Affairs of the Head

Length: 591 pages9 hours


Nervous, shy, plain, unfashionable, impecunious, ordinary? There are loads of people like that, but surely not hero material? Jayne Muffatt is all of these, seventeen years old, suppressed at home, ignored outside, and certainly no hero when she turns up for her first job after an undistinguished school career.

Yet she overcomes her mother, who wants her to marry a sinister evangelist with a secret and an agenda, her boss, whose firm makes wonderful medical equipment but with a terrifying dark side, a county court which wants to imprison her for arson and housebreaking and even a tabloid newspaper, portraying her as ‘the computer sex girl’. This follows an unexpected encounter with her boss’s computer, 'borrowed' to verify suspicions held by her and her geeky friend Jon Bacon.

Jayne has to survive a car chase, a fire, a coma, a court case, a discovery which pulls down the shutters on a hoped-for romance, a complete reversal of her own long-held opinions, an attempt to scramble her brain and the loss of Jon. She discovers talents she never suspected when she learns to use her boss’s computer to search her own and other people’s minds. In the final chapters, she uses her abilities in a dramatic rescue, though mixed with tragedy.

Through all this journey of self-discovery, Jayne finds a resilience and resourcefulness she never thought she had, and grows from a shy and downtrodden teenager into a worthy, if not always perfect hero.

This is a clearly constructed, well-paced and often humorous story, for young people who don’t fit the usual image and prefer heroes who don’t, and for those of us who remember that we were like that too.

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