The Change

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Pub Date 18 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 1 Sep 2022

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‘A roar of rage, a pacy page-turner, I loved it with all my broken heart. Read it. You’ll love it’ Marian Keyes

‘I loved this wild mystery about a group of midlife women who have just about had enough. I couldn't put it down’ Erin Kelly

‘A feminist thriller for our times’ Nina Pottell, Prima

‘An addictive, fast-paced crime novel like nothing you’ve ever read before’ Red magazine

* * *

Nessa: The Seeker
Jo: The Protector
Harriett: The Punisher

With newfound powers the time has come to take matters into their own hands…

After Nessa is widowed and her daughters leave for college, she’s left alone in her house near the ocean. In the quiet hours, she hears voices belonging to the dead – who will only speak to her.

On the cusp of fifty Harriett’s marriage and career imploded, and she hasn’t left her house in months. But her life is far from over – in fact, she’s undergone a stunning metamorphosis.

Jo spent thirty years at war with her body. The rage that arrived with menopause felt like the last straw – until she discovers she’s able to channel it.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio discover the abandoned body of a teenage girl. The police have written off the victim. But the women have not. Their own investigations lead them to more bodies and a world of wealth where the rules don’t apply – and the realisation that laws are designed to protect villains, not the vulnerable.

So it’s up to these three women to avenge the innocent, and punish the guilty…

The time has come to embrace The Change.

* * *

‘Part crime thriller, part extended howl of pure rage, The Change takes a scalpel to the cancer of misogyny that infects every cell of western culture, with biting wit and a burning, righteous anger that never lets up. Powerful and original’ Tammy Cohen

‘A brilliant book. Thrilling, fast paced and original. I couldn’t stop reading’ Sarah Morgan

‘A revenge fantasy and feminist fist-pump – and a balm for trying times’ Grazia

‘A roar of rage, a pacy page-turner, I loved it with all my broken heart. Read it. You’ll love it’ Marian Keyes

‘I loved this wild mystery about a group of midlife women who have just about had...

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ISBN 9780008494674
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Featured Reviews

This book was excellent.
Firstly though trigger warnings: sexual assault, rape, murder, paedophilia
The subject matter does not make this an easy read. But I could not put it down. From the moment I started I was engrossed. The three main women are exceptional, funny and I loved each of them. Harriet the witch, Nessa the seer and Jo the punisher. They come into powers that will protect and avenge the dead.
I was sad when the book came to an end and desperately hope that there will be another one in the future. There were points in the story when I felt horrified by the continuously horrific men that kept coming to the fore and desperately needed to cling on to some of the good ones (there are good ones as well – perhaps not enough though). There is a perfect balance in this book, when I became despondent the story would shift and lift me up again. I cannot recommend this enough.

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This is a book that will really resonate with women of a certain age: women who have at times felt overlooked, invisible, sidelined and ignored. The three main characters are very refreshing and represent those older women who are often only visible in books and films as side characters. The book is fast-paced, it has an interesting plot line involving murder and betrayal, but we also get a lot of back story of the main protagonists which fleshes out their characters. As a big fan of Greek myths, I found that the three main characters reminded me at times of the Fates but also the Furies, which I really enjoyed, and yet The Change also felt refreshingly new. The storyline weaves back and forth and keeps the reader guessing what will happen next, right up to the end. This is a book that will be enjoyed by any woman who has just reached the point in her life where she just thinks "I'm not going to put up with this crap anymore". I think this book will be an absolute knockout hit with book groups, and anywhere that friends recommend a good read.

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I was going to remark that when Kirsten Miller’s irresistible heroines Harriett, Jo, and Nessa get together, her novel ‘The Change’ takes off. But that's 10% in, and in fact, this book takes flight from the very first line: ‘No one had seen the woman who lived at 256 Woodland Drive since early November.’ Kirsten Miller’s writing is powerfully magnetic. Her authorial voice/narrative voice is so strong that this is one of those novels where you forget that you are reading it, and you feel that you’re living it.

With not much space given over to descriptive passages, Miller performs that alchemy of forging a wholly fleshed-out, full-technicolour setting for the reader by the strength of well-written dialogue and considered character internalisations. An author who can make dialogue pull the weight of characterisation and setting really does deserve praise. So, reconsidering my opening statement, I should say that the plot really gets going once, at the 10% mark, Nessa announces her proposal for what herself, Harriett, and Jo will spend the rest of the novel doing.

The story itself is not unlike a police procedural. The novel uses the mystery genre’s approach to solving cases of missing women as the line from which are strung significant discussions about women’s experiences. This is a well-paced, very finely considered debut adult novel. Miller has a practised eye for character, and writes punchy, tightly wound scenes between her cast of captivating female leads.

I adore the figures of Harriett, Jo, and Nessa. Each character is given equal attention and three sets of compelling traits emerge as our protagonist personalities. Their interactions are energetic and charged, and the way each woman refracts, reflects and disperses the others’ light is like three interacting prisms. The space between these prisms, filled with spectral colours, is where the story happens:

And just look at the writing style outside of the crisp dialogue! Miller employs an edge of pure, hard precision yet gives her phrasings an original tweak; she says what she means to say, but often approaches it from a distinct angle rather than stating bare facts: ‘By the time the three women were free to go, the sun was well on its journey toward the ocean on the opposite side of the continent.’ Observation, consideration, and craft have gone into Miller’s writing, but the reader doesn’t see any of the workings-out; the reader enjoys the polished finished piece.

The chapter entitled ‘Josephine Levison’s Thirty-Year War’ is a powerhouse of a masterpiece in its raw truth-telling about the reality of living in a woman’s body. The author, through the perspective of one of our protagonist trinity, illuminates the common experience of menstruation, peri-menopause and menopause. In a succeeding chapter, ‘The Purification of Harriett Osbourne’, Miller writes from her own experiences as a professional woman in the advertising business with vicious honesty and knife-edged derision. The same disgraceful truths are illuminated as in Jo’s backstory; the same mainstream misogyny is spotlit by Miller’s veristic vision. As the bio that prefaces this advanced copy states: ‘Kristen Miller is an outstanding feminist author [...] who spent twenty five years as a strategist in the advertising industry. [...] She’s proud to have quit a senior job at one of the most famous and agencies in America over an ad that’s described in ‘The Change’.’ This chapter is crushing to read.

Harriett is the woman a lot of us would wish we could have been when sexist absurdities like this have been erected in our way. For me, because I've failed to channel the kind of strengths embodied by our protagonists here when I’ve been subjected to similar discrimination, reading this novel at times felt like opening a searing wound in my belly. Chapters throughout the novel elucidate many ways men ruin women’s lives. Discourse on gynephobic bigotry permeates ‘The Change’. For men reading this novel, this might seem like it’s intended to shock. But for a lot of female readers, this will read as agonising realism. There’s no misplaced righteousness here; Miller reports with authenticity what to many of us women is common occurrence. Much of this novel spoke to me as a boost of solidarity. Much else of the novel read to me as shamefully familiar tragedy.

‘The Change’ achieves what Naomi Alderman’s ‘The Power’ might have sought to do, but in a more refined way (poor Kirsten Miller is going to have to weather hordes of Alderman comparisons!). I devoured ‘The Power’ (I am a true Alderman devotee), but in my book group, my eyes were opened to how different women responded to that novel across a spectrum of enjoyment and displeasure. What Miller achieves is a candidness born of strong characterisation; she has shaped real empathy for her characters, so what Jo or Harriett relate echoes roundly as truth-speaking. The accuracy of Miller’s feminist reportage floored me.

The only dip for me is somewhere between 80% - 90% (I read this as a digital advanced review copy, so the text might change) where the grip that the story had on me loosened. Up till then, I had been skipping normal day-to-day activities in order to spend every unoccupied moment reading this novel! However, I wonder whether some of these finishing chapters are strictly vital. The narrative might be more robust if the portion before the climax were tightened up. I feel this way mainly because I don’t want any part of Miller’s work to reflect negatively upon her achievement. In the final movements of the novel, there is a section of dialogue between two characters that feels staid, and it gave away ‘the turn’, if you want to call it that. Then the end came too fast for me, despite the epilogue.

When the book is on the market, I’d like to hear what other readers think about the lesbian (or bisexual – it isn’t qualified how either woman feels about their previous heterosexual visibility) relationship in this novel; is it false-hearted? Does it serve the novel? In what way does it serve us in the LGBT community? Does it amend, adapt, refine or enhance the two characters in any way? I’d be interested in discussing what dramatic function is served by having two female characters engage in a sexual relationship, which does not receive the same observational detail, scrutiny, analysis and vital connection to characterisation that is granted the heterosexual relationships in the novel. I would hate for the only same-sex relationship in the book, a relationship between two peri-menopausal women, to be throwaway, casual, inserted simply as a nod to equality of representation and diversity. My concern is that lesbian women and peri-menopausal women both come off badly from flippant under-developed representation of sex between two women. I’m unsettled by the fact that two of the three main characters find fulfilment in their heterosexual relationships, yet for the characters in a same-sex relationship, there seems to be no closure or resolution.

Even though I’ve highlighted some concerns, this is a glorious novel - a marvel of an achievement for Miller, and I’m thrilled to have received this HQ title as a digital advanced copy through Netgalley, and my thanks go to both publisher and the online book review service, in exchange for my review.

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There is a lot to love about this energetic feminist 'thriller'. Thriller is in inverted commas because, while the plot is important, the atmosphere is really the star of the show, and I was most invested in the characters and their development.

It's not free from cliche, and some elements of the plot were telegraphed so clearly that the 'reveals' fizzled. I also think it's overlong and could do with a strong edit.

My main criticism is the focus on physical strength/prowess as the most important element of the feminist struggle. Physical strength and ability is an important component of an action plan, for sure, but I would have liked more focus on the importance of the social aspects of male dominance: the way girls are trained to acquiesce to male demands, not to make a fuss, to keep things flowing smoothly. This is really strongly shown in the narratives around the women's workplaces and marriages, but doesn't seem to come into their action plan for the future, which feels like a miss.

But I love the energy, the palpable rage, the strong relationships developed between the characters, the power, and the centrality of menopausal women.

My thanks to NQ and NetGalley for the ARC.

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The menopause is reinvented as a source of power in this brilliant new novel. Three strong woman come together to solve a horrible mystery in the seaside town of Mattauk. Someone is killing young women.
Nissan has second sight, Jo retools her hot flushes as super strength whilst Harriet is a powerful healer. It reminded me of John Updike's The Witches Of Eastwick, only this book was better.

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I LOVED this! A brilliant tale of 3 women who bond over their changing lives, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The change in them is incredible to watch, and how they deal with their new status and place in the world. A good crime story mixed with just the right amount of supernatural intrigue.

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A harrowing, moving tale on many levels.

This book was not what I was expecting. At all. Luckily, this is a good thing. "The Change" is a deep, moving, and suspenseful story full of strong characters.

The story begins by introducing us to three women, of "a certain age", each experiencing menopause (just one of the Changes the title refers to) as well as lives having undergone, undergoing or about to undergo major change. Nessa, Jo and Harriet all live in the small Long Island community of Mattaukstart and each starts to develop talents which have lain dormant until now, and together they set out to protect and avenge women who have been wronged or murdered and whose deaths have gone unpunished.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the three seek to redress the balance. And so we are drawn into a tale of people striving to figure out their lives, their purpose and their place in the world, all the while using their newly discovered talents to help others.

Obviously the three women are the mainstay of the book - strong, haunted, driven, liberated, and more. Early on in the book, we learn their backgrounds and how they came to be the women they are today. The narrative is strong, clear and the author obviously speaks from experience. The story moves along a quite a pace, and is full of characters the reader will love, hate and sympathise with. It's full of small moments everyone will know, such as Jo making sure her daughter knows what to do if approached by a stranger.

Inevitably, some will label this book Feminist Literature, and perhaps it is. But it's much more. It's also a thriller, and a tale of the supernatural. I was lucky to score a Netgalley ARC, but will be looking forward to a proper copy when it comes out. I recommend thriller fans do the same.

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The Change by Kirsten Miller is a powerful book. It's a long overdue truth that women of a certain age don't necessarily lose themselves because of menopause and ageing.

Sometimes the change really can mean a change within women where we find the vacuous worries of youth- appearance, attractiveness, having a partner, being the best mother and spouse-lose their meaning.

Nessa: The Seeker
Jo: The Protector
Harriett: The Punisher

These three women join together to find power in each other. They have a purpose; to find out why girls and young women have been sexually abused and killed.

The plot is one I know I will think about for some time to come, always the sign of a great book.

I love how The Change melds a feminist narrative with the thriller genre. It's a powerful book with strong women who recognise weakness doesn't mean inaction.

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OH MY GOSH this book was good. It was well written with an original and interesting plotline and well developed characters that I still think about now after finsihing. This was a gripping read that was fast paced and suspenseful and at the same time full of vivid descriptions and a really powerful message against misogyny. This book reminded me so much of The Handmaids Tale but in many ways I enjoyed this book more. I think this book will be very popular, I loved it and will be recommending it to everyone I know.

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Neassa is widowed and her daughters have moved out, left for college. She is alone in her house, with nobody for company apart from the voices of the dead that speak to her. Harriet’s marriage and career both ended abruptly, dramatically. Her career was her life, all she had worked towards. She fell apart, and didn’t leave her house for months. But as her garden began to transform, so too did she. Jo spent many years fighting with her body, with the world, with control. Then menopause struck and the fight became a deep red hot rage that felt like she was going to destroy everything. Until she discovered she could control and direct the rage.

The three women live in a small community in Long Island called Mattaukstart. They find one another and form a fast and firm friendship, and start to develop their talents together. Led by Nessa they find the body of a teenage girl. The police write off the victim and close the case. But the girl's ghost won’t let it go, and keeps reminding Nessa by hanging around. The ladies discover two more teenage girls, and they realise this is even bigger a case to solve than they initially thought. They set out determined to uncover what has happened, and won’t stop until they have avenged the women who were wronged, and whose deaths have gone unnoticed and unpunished.

This book was excellent, and completely unexpected. I expected a story about three middle aged women trying to cope with loss. But I got so much more on so many levels. The three main characters are fantastic, each so different and unique, yet they complement one another so wonderfully. The book doesn’t shy away from some heavy topics, murder, sexual assault, rape, coercive control and more. All are integral parts of the story, building the characters and developing the storyline. This book will really resonate with women, particularly women of a certain age. But really, with all women who have felt passed over, left to the sidelines, skipped for promotion, left behind, treated as lesser, all just simply because they are women. As older women still, this only gets worse. As women age, there is less representation in books, tv and movies, so having a story with three older women, coming into their own and finding their place, was empowering and refreshing. It took girl power to an entirely new meaning, and showed that together, we really are better, and friendships are vital in life.

The story was engaging, the pace fast, you were excited, scared, happy, sad, frustrated, angry, heart broken. It was a roller coaster read, and refreshingly different from the usual murder mystery. I really, really, really enjoyed this read, and couldn’t put it down until I was finished. Then I was promptly sad that the story was done. An absolute recommended read!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

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An absolutely riveting and moving read. You will not be able to put this down.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of female revenge. To be honest, it's very hard not to when the people you want revenge on are THE MOST horrific and disgusting people in the world. I fully backed these wonderful ladies. Some parts were very hard to read which, of course, added more fuel to the revenge fire.

Oh, how I related to the three main characters, Nessa, Jo, and Harriett in different ways with their back stories, and the way that women have to comply with male standards of how they should appear and act in the workplace and in the home. Ah, the male desire for power! Don't forget that women become invisible after a certain age. This is a truth that will never be learned in any classroom, girls. Which just means we have to shout louder to be noticed, particularly in the workplace. With the onset of menopause (in my case and Jo's, too), comes such rage that you feel you could actually kill someone, so I adore the fact that Jo's rage could be channelled like a superpower. I loved Nessa for her gift of seeing and hearing those who needed to be helped and laid to rest. I saw ghosts as a child, but wished I could've helped.

My favourite character was Harriett and her love, and superlative knowledge, of all things botanic, whether healing or nasty. She just oozed confidence in herself and her abilities. Others called her a witch, however one line in the book just sums up Harriett to a T and slapped me across the face with understanding of our femalekind.

"'Witch' is the label society slaps on women it can't understand or control."

I suspect that I'm not the only one to admire her for being her true self and living her true nature.

This is an exceptionally well-written, vivid, and powerful piece of work. I will be recommending it to everyone I know. I chose an ARC of this work which I voluntarily and honestly read and reviewed. All opinions are my own. My thanks to NetGalley and the author.

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Three women join together to find power in each other. They have a purpose; to find out why girls and young women have been sexually abused and killed. The characters are skillfully drawn and remain quite memorable long after the unexpected conclusion.

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4.5 rounded up

This is marketed as 'Big Little Lies' meets The Witches of Eastwick ...oooh yes please! Let's chuck in three amazing women of an 'uncertain age' and create a feminist revenge fantasy in a great setting of Mattauk, NY which is utilised masterfully in the storytelling.

It starts in April with a view of 256 Woodland Drive, once an object of covetous desire but it's now neglected and abandoned, its owner harriet Osborne hasn't been seen since early November. However, don't worry, Harriet is fine, let's just say she's been developing those green fingers hidden behind some pretty spectacular plants. harriet has always been a driven woman but now her drive takes a different path. Harriet teams up with former nurse Nessa James who hears the voices of the dead and gym owner Jo Levinson who utilises her furnace like hot flushes and strength in an almost super human way. These three phenomenal women are on a collision course with some of powerful inhabitants of Mattauk and they wreak their own brand of havoc for the best possible reasons to take down the rot at it's core.

I love this book right from the start, what an incredible premise. The three central protagonists are amazing, the stand out is Harriet whose portrayal is simply phenomenal. Jo's daughter Lucy will definitely be a kick ass adult, she's that as an eleven year old! Some of the dialogue is brilliant and makes me hoot with laughter it's so clever. However, there is a very dark side to the plot and you shout encouragement from the literary side lines.

I love the feminist vibe too, so much the author includes resonates in my own working life - should have channelled my inner Harriet! The storytelling flows, it's very well written, there is never a dull moment as the plot deepens with many twists and turns. Some of the imagery as we wend our way to the end is mind blowing and eye boggling it's so creative and inventive. I like how the author gives a voice to the victims we often forget but remember the perpetrator.

I daresay the ending mirrors a recent real life situation a bit too closely but I guess also that's what makes it realistic.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to HQ for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

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What a fabulous empowering and exciting read - Harriett, Jo and Nessa are the women we should all aspire to be! This novel takes 'women of a certain age' and shows them as they are, not how they are usually portrayed to be.

Love the female strength and power that's on display here - who wouldn't want to be who they truly are and enjoy their lives to the full.

Loved it, should be a compulsory read for all.

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Wow! This is a book that at the same time made me both uncomfortable with some of it’s sordid setting and yet made me feel good as three women find retribution for those wronged. This a story of women believing in themselves, of leaving behind a ‘male dominated’ world of money and business, and finding peace in their place in the world. Three very different women, all changing, finding they have a connection. One is a witch who understands flora and fauna, the second sees ghosts and needs to make sure their mothers know what has happened, and the third has found boundless energy and strength. They have all been overlooked, as much by themselves, but not anymore. They are stronge, wise, wittier, and you really don’t want to mess with them. They won’t be put down by anyone and they won’t rest until the truth is known and the score is settled. Brilliant story, this is a must read. As I said, wow! Thank you to known and the score is settled. Brilliant story, this is a must read. As I said, wow! Thank you to Penguin/Puffin and NetGalley for sending me an ARC. This review comes from a male, and is my personal freely given review.

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The Seeker, The Protector and The Punisher come together to find the murdered girls bodies and punish those responsible.

A great story with lots of interlinked twists. Wonderful strong and independent women who stand up for what they believe in whilst embracing their age and the changes that it brings.

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There is a misconstrued conception which I visibly see myself, that menopausal women become invisible. Almost like they are surplus to requirements in society. This book grabs that view and kicks it into oblivion. These feisty women don’t take any prisoners.

In this book menopausal women come into their own. The three main characters find latent powers within themselves to solve a string of murders and destroy every man involved. It is a punchy feminist thriller and I loved every word of it. It has been described as Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick which suits the book, but there is so much more to it.

I was sad to see the book finish because the three main characters were exceptional, especially Harriet - what an incredible woman! I want to be like her when I grow up. She is the original Poison Ivy. I really hope there is a sequel to this book as I know there must be more crimes to solve.

I really enjoyed finding out about the past lives of the characters and seeing how they became so determined. Many would say they were bitter, but I believe they were empowered.

This is a book I will be shouting about from the rooftops for a very long time. It is a must read.

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I absolutely loved this book, with its celebration of the power of women running through every page. In many ways a fantasy of how anyone could make the misogynists pay for their crimes, but at the heart of it is a true feminism.
Brilliant reworking of the old Maid, Mother, Crone trope.
It’s also a cracking mystery, on a par with John Connolly and similar writers.

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If you mix The Witches of Eastwick with The Female Eunuch, then throw in a serial killer or two, you might well end up with this book. It's not your usual crime novel and that's no bad thing. It's certainly a unique take on the genre.

Though not without faults - rather long, and needing a good suspension of disbelief - The Change is a refreshing account of the lives of three women at or approaching menopause. It's also an interesting delve into violent crime and its effect on women - both the victims and their mothers.

The men are mostly awful, though there are a couple of good guys, and the three female protagonists are blessed with strange powers: Nessa sees dead girls, Jo can melt metal with her bare hands, and Harriett seems to have a telepathic understanding of what's going to happen in future - though she rarely reveals this to the others until it has happened. Harriett also wanders about her garden in the nude, grows herbs - both the poisonous and the innocuous kind, and makes potions that cure hangovers instantly.

It's an odd book, but I was gripped by it. There's fun to be had from reading it though it has a serious side too. Novels featuring murders rarely bother to give a voice to the victims but this one does.

It's something new and it's to be applauded for that.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 brilliant stars.

I can’t work out why I loved this book so much - the premise didn’t sound like my kind of book, and I wasn’t sure what to make of it as I started reading it.

But it totally hooked me in - I loved the diverse characters, especially Harriet, who needs a book in her own right.

It is a long book but the chapters are short and snappy and the book overall didn’t feel long when I was reading it.

I did kind of guess a couple of the bad guys early on but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

If you fancy trying something different then I really recommend this.

Also, how do I get in touch with Harriet? :-)

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