You're a young woman. You can choose. Which career to pursue. Who to have sex with. Who to marry and have children - or not - with. This is now. Step into the shoes of Olive. You're a happy, open-hearted girl. Your (tricky) mother is dead and you live with your father in a solid, Edwardian house with apple trees in the garden. He's a kind man who does his fair share around the house. Your passion for books gets you easily into university, where the world is surely waiting for you. There, you take part in a play, and are noticed by the leading man. Even though he's not as glamorous off-stage, he becomes your boyfriend. But then you make a mistake - the kind any one of us could make - and face an impossible choice. You are young, still, and full of hope. You can't possibly know how that mistake will sit in your heart. Or that when you get a job at a wonderful school you will meet an older colleague and fall in love. But the affair must stay secret; the world won't have it any other way. All you have ever wanted is for your heart to be free. But you are living in a time and place where freedoms we now take for granted had the power to destroy.
PRAISE FOR SUSAN HILL: "Subtle and profoundly moving...one of our finest novelists". (Sunday Times). "Almost unbearably poignant...this short book will live long in the memory". (Independent on Sunday). "A novel of great structural and stylistic control". (Guardian).
Olive was a disappointment to Evelyn, who'd have much preferred a boy; perhaps she sensed that her daughter would become someone to whom she could not relate. But Olive was not born with three legs and a hook at the end of her nose, she was just different. In search of affection, Olive almost settles on Mr. Right before realising that there are other kinds of love. However, being at odds with the rest of society is difficult, especially in a time when pineapple chunks and cheddar cheese speared on cocktail sticks is considered the height of chic. Susan Hill has given us a perfectly formed novel that doesn't waste a single word, which is very reassuring to this fussy bookseller who relishes the pleasure of a good read over pretty much anything else!
Recommended by Mary Burnham, Dubray Dun Laoghaire