Emma Roberts leaves home for the first time in her twenties, travelling to Paris to study seventeenth-century garden design. There, she meets vivacious Françoise Desnoyers and is quickly drawn into her passionate and complicated world.
But Françoise's demands - deceiving her formidable mother over a love affair - leave Emma feeling exposed and vulnerable, and yearning for the safety and comfort of her London home. Yet when an unexpected family tragedy turns that life upside down, Emma comes to realize the impossibility of returning to a home you have already left behind...
Enthralling... so beautifully observed... as captivating as any thriller
Spare and devastating, powerful. Brookner is an unflinching novelist who writes beautifully and fearlessly
Elegiac ... its magnificent final sentence is among the most moving of Brooknerian conclusions
Clever and elegant
So well done - so carefully is the novel wrought - that reading it offers deep and enduring pleasure
Brookner is brilliant ... readers will not be disappointed. Her women are very real, more recognizable and more human than any obviously loveable character could hope to be