Author(s): Beryl Bainbridge
In the rainswept summer of 1968, Rose sets off for the United States from Kentish Town to meet a man she knows as Washington Harold, in her suitcase a polka-dot dress and a one-way ticket. In a country rocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King and a rising groundswell of violence, they are to join forces in search of the charismatic and elusive Dr Wheeler - oracle, guru and redeemer - whom Rose credits with rescuing her from a terrible childhood, and against whom Harold nurses a silent grudge. As they trail their quarry, zigzagging through America in a camper van, the odd couple - Rose, damaged child of grey postwar Britain, and nervous, obsessive, driven Harold - encounter a ragged counter-cultural army of Wheeler's acolytes, eddying among dangerous currents of obscure dissent and rage. But somewhere in the wide American darkness, Dr Wheeler is waiting.
Beryl Bainbridge wrote seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television, she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, and won literary awards including the Whitbread Prize and the Author of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. She died in July 2010.