A haunting, confronting novel from the author of The Heart’s Invisible Furies


‘Subtle, intelligent and humane’ Sunday Telegraph
'Boyne not only opens up conversations, he writes beautifully and sensitively' Woman&Home
‘A perceptive, moving exploration of guilt, grief and complicity’ Sunday Express
‘Boyne does not put a foot wrong in this masterly novella’ Mail on Sunday
'An intriguing investigation of contemporary trauma... [a] short but powerful book' Guardian
'His quietest novel... but one just as powerful as his larger canvases' Business Post

From million-copy-bestselling author John Boyne comes a masterfully reflective story about one woman coming to terms with the demons of her past and finding a new path forward.

The first thing Vanessa Carvin does when she arrives on the island is change her name. To the locals, she is Willow Hale, a solitary outsider escaping Dublin to live a hermetic existence in a small cottage, not a notorious woman on the run from her past.

But scandals follow like hunting dogs. And she has some questions of her own to answer. If her ex-husband is really the monster everyone says he is, then how complicit was she in his crimes?

Escaping her old life might seem like a good idea but the choices she has made throughout her marriage have consequences. Here, on the island, Vanessa must reflect on what she did - and did not do. Only then can she discover whether she is worthy of finding peace at all.

Can you ever truly wash away your past?

What readers are saying:

'A scorching, devastating tale'
'Powerful, challenging and beautifully written’
'Compelling, propulsive, and completely immersive’
'Written with the same emotional intensity and thought provoking honesty as his longer works’
'Packs a hard hitting punch with its depth of emotional understanding of what it is to be human’
'What an astoundingly brilliant piece of writing this is . . . by its end you feel as though you have read something much more epic in length'

About the author

John Boyne

John Boyne is the author of sixteen novels for adults, six for younger readers, and a collection of short stories. His 2006 novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide and has been adapted for cinema, theatre, ballet, and opera. His many international bestsellers include The Heart's Invisible Furies and A Ladder to the Sky. He has won four Irish Book Awards, including Author of the Year in 2022, along with a host of other international literary prizes. His novels are published in sixty languages.

Twitter: @JohnBoyneBooks
Instagram: @JohnBoyneAuthor
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