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Sheila Harrison always looks forward to the descent of the summer visitors onto ‘Seafret’, her tall brick house right on the front at Blythney, in East Anglia. She loves the way her spare bedrooms are full, from June to September, with successive waves of children – schoolfriends of her own three and the waifs and strays sent by the Country Hosts’ Association.

But Sheila is not prepared for the upheaval caused by one young girl, Anansi, who arrives from a background that Sheila can only guess at. Urban, streetwise, knowing beyond her years, Anansi refuses to be patronised by Sheila’s well-meaning attempts to make her feel at home. She looks at Sheila, her family and friends, with eyes unclouded by familiarity – and drops a bombshell. Even when the dust has settled, summers will never be the same again.


'As ever, Libby Purves draws you into the laughter and tears in the life of her characters, in this case teachers Kit and Anna. ... Like all her books, this is a cracking story' Woman's Weekly
She orchestrates it all with honesty, ingenuity and sardonic wit. Definitely one to take on holiday
'done with a finesse which makes the words live on in your memory long after the novel has been put away' Gina Sykes, The Examiner
'a brilliant dissection of troubled lives' Prima, London
'Purves' fourth novel is a skilled and serious attempt to deal with society's sensitivity (or oversensitivity) towards the treatment of children' Nottingham Evening Post
'a good story, crisply and lightly told, that touches on many of teaching's current preoccupation and dilemmas and that grows in depth as it unfolds' The Times Educational Supplement
'the kind of book that you race to finish and then think about for a long time afterwards' Beverly Davies, The Lady
'a rare and wonderful treat' Northern Echo
'a compelling love story which stubbornly refuses to pass judgement on a terrifying deviancy which haunts society' Eastern Daily Express
'Libby Purves has crafted a poignant novel with a modern tragedy interspersed with humour and malevolence' Worcester Evening News
'Libby Purves again uses her skills as a story-teller to wrap the reader in the lives of her characters and create a satisfying read. She also confronts some of the difficult issues which face teachers today with sympathy and ease.' Catherine Levack, Coventry Evening Telegraph (Dec '99)
'Miss Purves is always worth a read.' Roger Thurlow, Brentwood Gazette (Dec '98)
'Like a true sailor, [Libby Purves] is an excellent raconteur, steers an exciting course and dumps you safely back on dry land with a thirst to go to sea again. Buy her books, read her columns, tune into Radio 4 and embark on an odyssey of your own' Jo Davidson, What's On in Suffolk (Dec'98)
'A lovely read, and much enjoyed by my reader, who thinks that this is her best novel yet.' Sarah Broadhurst
Libby Purves's previous novels, Casting Off, A Long Walk in Wintertime and Home Leave: 'Humour, humanity and relish for the enjoyably mundane' The Times
'A feel-good novel ... hilarious ... humorous ... fabulously incisive' Independent
'Ms Purves has the gift of tongues - a born novelist' Fay Weldon
'Five-star fiction' Penny Vincenzi
'A keen eye for the picaresque' Scotsman
'A sure touch for dramatising the lacerations and upheavals of ordinary life' Sunday Times
'Lively and robustly honest' Sunday Express
'Purves' novel of ordinary lives is compelling, her perceptions acute ... sophisticated and skilful' Daily Telegraph
Libby Purves' prose is clean, sharp and in touch with things that matter' Daily Express
'One to sell like hotcakes, Purves' depiction of family chaos will make you laugh out loud.' She
'A glorious romp ... with a healthy dose of satire on media manners and a generous injection of knockabout comedy into the bargain' Country Living
'Well-told and enjoyable ... [the voice] is that of someone genuinely interested in the varieties of human experience, amused but not mocking, understanding but not judgmental' Sunday Telegraph
. . . an engrossing story about childhood, courage and reconciliation
Books Magazine
'an idiosyncratic blend of her journalistic voice ... With the skills of a writer who understands the proper balance in a novel between issue and narrative. ... This is her best novel ... [and] will find an answering echo in many readers' Elizabeth Buchan, The Times
Ms Purves softens the sharp edges with a piquancy and humour which are truly brilliant
Gina Sykes, Huddersfield Examiner
Libby Purves has created a complex and appealing character in a novel which develops to an exciting conclusion
Vanessa Berridge, Woman & Home
'Purves's evocative descriptions of Venice intensify an already gripping narrative' Mail on Sunday
Purves is at her most enjoyable when she is . . . displaying in her treatment of her characters, the mixture of generosity and common sense with which readers of her columns in The Times will already be familiar
Christina Koenig, The Times
'Her story of Kit Milcourt [...] is passionately felt and a moving exposé of the graveyard of talent, imagination and energy that is the domain of too many schools.' Elizabeth Buchan, Night & Day (Dec '98)
poignant, intelligent and hilarious
Suffolk & Norfolk Life
'all the compassion characteristic of her writing in her previous novels and columns. ... This is a humane and perceptive novel' Woman & Home