SPECIAL

Bella Bathurst

A group of teenage schoolgirls are on a field trip to the Forest of Dean. Vain, spoilt and interested primarily in sex, alcohol and outfits, the girls squabble and smoke, skive and bitch, torment their teachers and betray their friends, and the reader bears witness to the development and disintegration of relationships. So far, so typical. But this world of teenagers is a hall of mirrors, where the everyday can become monstrous, and nothing is quite what you expect. Soon enough something dark and sinister begins to move underneath the surface.

Special is a work of brilliance and insight. At times it’s like reading an anthropological text on a strange, distant tribe, while at others it feels uncomfortably familiar – but I have to say I’ve never come across a book that makes me so glad to be grown-up’ Daily Telegraph

‘Sinister and menacing’ Patricia Duncker, Books of 2002, New Statesman

‘A brilliant and disturbing take on underoccupied teenage girls’ Maggie O’Farrell, Books of 2002, Observer

Explore the other winners

Winner announced - 9th September

Stay in the loop

Enter your email to be the first to know the latest news from the Women's Prize For Fiction

VOTE

Vote for your favourite #WomensPrize winner

Cast your vote for your favourite #ReadingWomen book and decide who will be our Winner of Winners in our 25th year.

Favourite book Live

  • A Spell of Winter
    4% 136 / 2.8k
  • Fugitive Pieces
    1% 50 / 2.8k
  • Larry's Party
    1% 40 / 2.8k
  • A Crime in the Neighborhood
    0% 22 / 2.8k
  • When I Lived in Modern Times
    0% 23 / 2.8k
  • The Idea of Perfection
    0% 16 / 2.8k
  • Bel Canto
    3% 113 / 2.8k
  • Property
    0% 12 / 2.8k
  • Small Island
    8% 254 / 2.8k
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
    7% 209 / 2.8k
  • On Beauty
    3% 101 / 2.8k
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
    20% 577 / 2.8k
  • The Road Home
    2% 61 / 2.8k
  • Home
    2% 76 / 2.8k
  • The Lacuna
    2% 74 / 2.8k
  • The Tiger's Wife
    1% 39 / 2.8k
  • The Song of Achilles
    11% 341 / 2.8k
  • May We Be Forgiven
    1% 36 / 2.8k
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
    2% 76 / 2.8k
  • How to be Both
    4% 120 / 2.8k
  • The Glorious Heresies
    2% 65 / 2.8k
  • The Power
    5% 148 / 2.8k
  • Home Fire
    5% 171 / 2.8k
  • An American Marriage
    5% 163 / 2.8k
Win a set of our 2020 shortlist!

Sign up for the Women's Prize for Fiction newsletter and win a stack of this year's six shortlisted books.

(We will send you occasional emails full of author interviews, extracts and audio, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Please read our privacy policy for more information).