The First World War is over, and in a quiet Hampshire village, artist Stanley Spencer is working on the commission of a lifetime, painting an entire chapel in memory of a life lost in the war to end all wars.
Combining his own traumatic experiences with moments of everyday redemption, the chapel will become his masterpiece. When Elsie Munday arrives to take up position as housemaid to the Spencer family, her life quickly becomes entwined with the charming and irascible Stanley, his artist wife, Hilda, and their tiny daughter, Shirin.
As the years pass, Elsie does her best to keep the family together even when love, obsession and temptation seem set to tear them apart....
"An exquisite, lyrical novel...The English countryside of a hundred years past comes alive in every flower, every tender unsent letter, every contrary shifting of the human heart behind a closed cottage door. I absolutely loved it." (Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet)
"A brilliant evocation of the Bohemian world of artist Stanley Spencer and the women that surrounded him...a work of painterly beauty and deep integrity." (Wendy Wallace, author of The Painted Bridge)
"An intriguing story of artistic temperament, domestic turmoil, and remembrance. Nicola Upson weaves a web of creative and private passions." (Katie Ward, author of Girl Reading)