Nell Golightly is living out her widowhood in Cambridgeshire when she receives a strange request. A Tahitian woman, claiming to be the daughter of the poet Rupert Brooke, writes to ask what he was like. How did he sound, what did he smell like, how did it feel to wrap your arms around him?
"A lovely story, beautifully told"
In 1964 the eccentric American novelist Patricia Highsmith is hiding out in a cottage in Suffolk, to concentrate on her writing and escape her fans. She has another motive, too - a secret romance with a married lover based in London. Unfortunately it soon becomes clear that all her demons have come with her. Prowlers, sexual obsessives, frauds, imposters, suicides and murderers: the tropes of her fictions clamour for her attention, rudely intruding on her peaceful Suffolk retreat.
Patrick, a 50-year-old professor of American studies, drinker, and womaniser, has been given six months to live. In a rural part of Cambridgeshire, a teenager dies in a motorcycle accident. When his heart is transplanted into Patrick's chest, the lives of two strangers are forever conjoined. Patrick makes a good recovery from surgery, but has the strange feeling that his old life "won't have him". He discovers that his donor's name was Drew Beamish, and becomes intensely curious, not only about Drew but what shaped him.
Crime is a man's business, so they say, though not according to Queenie Dove. A self-proclaimed genius when it comes to thieving and escape, she reckons she's done pretty well. Yes, she had a tough childhood in London's East End. But she survived the Blitz, learned how to get by on her wits, and soon graduated from shoplifting to more glamorous crimes. Daring, clever and sexy, she thrived in the Soho of the Krays and the clubs of Mayfair, fell wildly in love, and got away with it all. Or did she? For beneath Queenie's vivacious, unrepentant account lies another story....
Tina returns for her brother's wedding to the Fenland village where she grew up. A moment of panic about her 10-year-old daughter triggers a vision of her best friend, Mandy Baker, who went missing without a trace at the same age three decades ago. The more Tina replays events and relives her tempestuous upbringing, the more she believes she knows what happened to Mandy and who was responsible.
"Too Slow, Too Cluttered"