Phobias abound at the Centre for Improved Living, where Nazma goes for help. She’s crazy about baking and desperately wants to become a pastry chef, but her fear of driving keeps her stuck working in a train-station kiosk, where she sells stale food to commuters while dreaming of butter croissants and fresh strudel. The Centre is also a lifeline for Sam, who is scared to death of being robbed and spends his days in his pyjamas in front of his computer, his house alarm always armed. Like the rest of the patients, Nazma and Sam want to face their fears, but will four weeks at the Centre be enough to change their lives? And will the two allow their budding romance to bloom without letting their phobias get in the way? Meanwhile, the Centre risks losing its funding, a fear that Ruby, the Centre’s eccentric director, must face while she tries to manage the patients’ fears. Set in a Cape Town as peculiar as its characters, The Peculiars is Jen Thorpe’s heart-warming and humorous debut.

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Critic Reviews (4)

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  1. Positive: 4 Out of 4
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Critical Consensus: Generally favorable.

Wawa Book Review

26 Feb 2017
The vocabulary of psychiatry became expanded when psychoanalysis and its study occurred as social challenge then later as social experiment. It has since become almost impossible to view mental well-being in isolation from other social attitudes. One ...

And The Plot Thickens<

25 Feb 2017
27-year old Nazma Matthews has a debilitating fear of driving. No amount of lessons can stop her irrational phobia, which means she’s stuck managing her father’s kiosk at a Metrorail station in Cape Town. Her dreams of becoming pastry chef are as ...

Times Live

25 Feb 2017
The peculiarity of the characters in Jen Thorpe’s debut novel, The Peculiars, lies in their phobias – of crime, strangers, driving. In the hope of overcoming them, they meet for treatment at the Centre for Improved Living. Thorpe has a co ...

Writers Write

25 Feb 2017
This debut novel, set in Cape Town, is a light-hearted story of how people deal with their fears. Unconventional Ruby is the director of the Centre for Improved Living. The centre coordinates a few studies a year and conducts therapy sessions for the ...

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Penguin Random House South Africa





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