"Rose, don't leave me. Promise never to leave me," said Ned on their wedding night, revealing an unexpected chink in his perfect armour of wealth, good looks, and country estate. Rose promised. After Ned's funeral, Rose looks back on a life of dual constancy, passion, humour, and the ambiguities of love ¿ and chooses her future.
August 1939. Five cousins gather for the annual summer ritual of a holiday in Cornwall; for most of them it is the last summer of their youth. The heady exhilarations of the freedoms brought by loss of innocence, and fear, are around the corner. War will change everything.
"I am so jolly well confused, dash it all!"
A traveller on a train returning to London smells the burn of brakes as it hisses to a stop in the middle of the countryside. He sees a white-faced woman leap from the train and race to the aid of a sheep stranded on its back, unable to rise, in a field. Righting it, she turns, and he sees her face is full of tragedy. Considering tragedies of his own, he does not intrude, but the image lodges in his mind: a strange but familiar despair, unable, despite itself
"Great Characters, Wonderful Reader"
Flora Trevelyan is a 10-year-old misfit, despised by her selfish and indolent parents, and left to wander the streets of a small French town while her parents prepare to depart for life in colonial India. There she befriends the locals, acquires an extensive vocabulary of French foul language, and encounters the privileged lifestyle of the elegant middle-class British families holidaying in 1920s France.
Summer 1939 and five cousins gather at the house with the camomile lawn for what, for many of them, will be the last summer of their youth.
"Terrific family saga set during WWII"
Poppy Carew, smarting and in shock because her live-in lover has left her for a richer woman, is called to the bedside of her dying father, a wonderful, loveable eccentric who dies laughing. He asks as his last request that he be buried in style by an undertaker who specialises in fun funerals. He also astonishes Poppy by leaving her a large sum of money.
Juno Marlowe hurries away from the thundering planes overhead, having just said goodbye to the two men she has always loved. She finds herself rescued by a stranger, frail and older than his years, who offers the protection of his house and a little more.
"A great author paired with a fantastic narrator"
While traveling on a train, Sylvester Wykes sees a woman leap from the carriage to rescue a stranded sheep. He glimpses a face that is white with tragedy; that image lodges in his mind and forms the seed of a splendid drama of love and fate.
For the whole of Rose's respectable married life, she had kept faith with two men. To Ned she was a perfect wife, mother of his son, and elegant hostess of Slepe. To Mylo, Rose was an impetuous and unconventional mistress, answering his erratic and impassionate calls throughout 50 years of tactful duplicity. After Ned's funeral Rose looks back on a life of dual constancy, passion, humour, and the ambiguities of love - and chooses her future.
Matilda Poliport, recently widowed, has decided to End It All. But her meticulously planned bid for graceful oblivion is foiled, and when she later foils the suicide attempt of another lost soul - Hugh Warner, on the run from the police - life begins again for both. But life also begins to throw up nasty secrets and some awkward questions: just what was Matilda’s husband Tom doing in Paris?
"What happens when you're past caring..."
Henry Tillotson, a generous, genial man, rescues Margaret from a disastrous marriage in Egypt and brings her home to the West Country as his new wife. On the threshold she gives him a black eye and retires straight to bed where she remains, apart from the occasional malevolent outburst, for the rest of her life.
Laura Thornby is swept by an irresistible desire to interfere when she meets struggling writer Claude Bannister. What she doesn't foresee is that he may write well - and she might fall in love.