An Observer best debut novel of 2023

‘The intense physicality of the novel’s emotions and its stylish, stripped-back prose make for an arresting pairingHephzibah Anderson, Observer

‘Atmospheric and daring’ Guardian

‘There’s nothing else like it out there’ The Times

Bold and beautiful… Desire crackles through these pages like fire’  Telegraph

Embraces and then toys with our expectation of the lesbian romance… Spare and direct’ London Review of Books


MRS S is a love story told over a smoldering summer at an elite boarding school. While it’s a poignant portrayal of a particular queer experience – a romance between a young teacher and the headmaster’s wife – it’s also a universal tale of longing and what it is to see and be seen.


In an elite English boarding school where the girls kiss the marble statue of the famous dead author who used to walk the halls, a young Australian woman arrives to take up the antiquated role of ‘matron’. 

Within this landscape of immense privilege, in which the girls can sense the slightest weakness in those around them, she finds herself unsure of her role, her accent and her body.

That is until she meets Mrs S, the headmaster’s wife, a woman who is her polar opposite: assured, sophisticated, a paragon of femininity.

Over the course of a long, restless heatwave, the matron finds herself irresistibly drawn ever closer into Mrs S’s world and their unspoken desire blooms into an illicit affair of electric intensity. 

But, as the summer begins to fade, both women know that a choice must be made.


K Patrick is based in Glasgow. Their poetry has appeared in Poetry ReviewGranta and Five Dials, and was shortlisted for The White Review Poet’s Prize in 2021, the same year that K was also shortlisted for The White Review’s Short Story Prize.

In 2020 they were runner-up in the Ivan Juritz Prize and the Laura Kinsella Fellowship.