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Book of the week : Wednesday's Child

Wednesday's Child By Eloise Millar Virago pound;10.99

The vast Blackbird Leys housing estate on the edge of Oxford is a sea of social problems. Visit it as an outsider and you find yourself tut-tutting about drink and drugs, truancy and underachievement. Visit the same estate through the eyes of writer Eloise Millar and you get the inside story.

The family Millar writes about, in this her first novel, is as dysfunctional as they come. Mum chain-smokes, coughs and cooks chips. Aunty Net is a chronic alcoholic. Eleven-year-old James is heading for trouble. His father, Dick Roberts - he never earns the title of "Dad" - is a violent bully who knocks everybody about. The book's heroine, eight-year-old Janny, knows that Tuesdays in the family are "speechless, silent and claustrophobic - like a brewing storm of pent-up accusations" - but Wednesdays, when Dick Roberts is tired from long shifts at the local car plant, are when faces get thumped and people get dragged about by the hair.nbsp;nbsp;

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