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Crocodile Soup

Gert Hardcastle is thirty-something and unlucky in love. But now she thinks she’s found ‘the One’ in enigmatic Eva, who works in the museum cafeteria where Gert catalogues Egyptian relics.

ISBN 0-141-01516-0


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Hoping to lay the ghosts of her own past to rest, Gert is trying to understand her difficult childhood: her relationship with her obsessive twin, Frank; her father who vanished to Africa to run a crocodile farm; and her neglectful mother who now sends her desperate begging letters.

Can Gert somehow come to terms with her traumatic upbringing and make a new life with Eva? Here is a lyrical narrative studded with relentless humour and giddy self-deprecation, complete with an irresistible cast of characters whose shared story is unforgettable.

Julia’s first novel Crocodile Soup was long listed for the Orange Prize when it was first published by Anchor in 1998. The novel went on to be published in Canada, Australia, across Europe and in the United States. It was published by Penguin in 2004 and a new commemorative edition is being published by Mayfly in May 2015.

“Barbara’s face was smeared with gin. She looked liked the type who cried if you showed her affection… I did and she cried for weeks.”


  • "With her feisty bad humor, Gert Hardcastle makes excellent company: a maiden aunt for the 21st century"

    —Lisa Zeidner, New York TimesRead more →
  • "An enormously satisfying meal. Hilarity and pain are mixed delicately. . . . [Darling's] territory is the deepest part of the imagination."

    —Independent on Sunday
  • "An engaging, inspiring first novel, Crocodile Soup is funny, tragic, and brilliantly original."

    —Glasgow Herald
  • "Darling writes with assurance and an eye for quirky detail"

  • "Darling's way with words is sublime ... a combination of delicacy, sensitivity and humour. A novel of exceptional strength and skill ... lingers poignantly in the mind."

    —Big Issue
  • "Funny, fresh and delicious ... snap it up"

    —New Woman

Where to buy

A commemorative edition of Crocodile Soup is now available from Mayfly Press.


Cover for the new commemorative edition of Crocodile Soup