Author(s): Barbara Vine
When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother's house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. It seems the obvious thing to do: They've always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There's one thing they've forgotten though: What if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? When Andrew's partner James moves in, it alters the balance - with almost fatal consequences. Grace tries to concentrate on writing her thesis, on illegitimacy in English fiction. During the day she ponders the fate of Hardy's Tess and the unfortunate Hetty Sorrell. So she's happy to oblige a friend when he asks her to read an unpublished manuscript about a young unmarried mother in Devon between the wars. Except the book begins to seem remarkably, and uncomfortably, close to home.
Barbara Vine's new novel, her first since The Birthday Present in 2008, is an intriguing examination of betrayal in a family and of those two once-unmentionable subjects, illegitimacy and homosexuality. Set in London and in Devon now and more than half a century ago, it shows vividly how society's attitudes and mores have changed in many respects - yet stubbornly remain the same in others.
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