An emotionally powerful novel about four women and the incredible strength it takes to live a life made invisible by others.
When you can't get out, let kindness in.
In a non-descript building in a gentrifying corner of London, Penny is doing daily battle with her mind. She is convinced that the world beyond her door is too dangerous for her, though her heart knows it isn't. Penny's neighbour, Carla, an American expat and single mother of two teens, has lived in a coercive relationship for many years, too worn down by her controlling husband to escape her situation. Mable, Penny's upstairs neighbour, an elderly Jamaican pensioner and devout Jehovah's Witness, has sacrificed everything for her faith, including her relationship with her family. And Woman, the housekeeper and nanny on the second floor, has been trafficked. When she is not cleaning and cooking, she works in the laundrette the landlord owns on the ground floor, a hidden slave in full view of the public.
Through grocery deliveries, glimpses through windows, and overheard conversations in the stairwell, the women come to know each other. Their small acts of compassion help them each find a way to mend the broken paths in their lives.
Illona Bannister is the best friend every new mother wants-the one who tells you it's OK to fall apart and the one who makes you laugh until you get back up again. This first novel is a wise, big-hearted, triumphant story of marriage and motherhood
A profoundly moving story showing the redemptive power of love and acceptance - of friends, family and also of ourselves. Smart, brave and often very funny . . . I was captivated
Praise for When I Ran Away
A beautiful and unflinching story of loss, motherhood and love in all its forms. Both heartbreaking and funny, Bannister perfectly captures the brilliant darkness of existing. I adored this brave debut.
This book ripped me open and stared right inside of me. I have never read words that described so perfectly so many of the feelings I've had (and still have)
Gigi is sharp and funny and endearing - Kirkus Reviews
A big-hearted novel, beautifully written and riven with a rich seam of humour - Yorkshire Living
Bannister's emotionally raw debut offers an unflinching glimpse of new motherhood - Publisher's Weekly
Ilona Bannister is a dual qualified US attorney and UK solicitor. She practiced UK immigration law before taking a break to raise her sons. Her experience as a lawyer working closely with families in difficult situations as well as her life as an American expat in her adopted country have made her a keen observer of people and the struggles of outsiders. Ilona is also developing a following on her astute and sharply funny Instagram account, soon to be a blog, @ilona.bannister where she uses Lego figures to discuss maternal mental health, feminism, socially conscious parenting and the amusing, yet sometimes daunting, side of being a parent. Ilona is a New Yorker married to an Englishman and raising two young sons in London. In her free time, Ilona enjoys running. Her first novel, When I Ran Away, was developed on Faber Academy's Work in Progress course.