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  • Two Roads
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When I Ran Away: An unforgettable debut about love pushed to its outer limits

Ilona Bannister

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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A rich, bighearted debut that takes us from working-class Staten Island in the wake of the September 11th attacks to moneyed London a decade later, revealing a story of loss, motherhood, and love found in the most impossible of places, perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman and Ann Napolitano.

'Smart, brave and often very funny . . . profoundly moving' Sarah Haywood, author of The Cactus

This morning Gigi left her husband and children.

Now she's watching Real Housewives and drinking wine in a crummy hotel room, trying to work out how she got here.

When the Twin Towers collapsed, Gigi Stanislawski fled her office building and escaped lower Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry. Among the crying, ash-covered and shoeless passengers, Gigi, unbelievably, found someone she recognised - the guy with pink socks and a British accent - from the coffee shop across from her office. Together she and Harry Harrison make their way to her parents' house where they watch the television replay the planes crashing for hours, and she waits for the phone call from her younger brother that never comes. And after Harry has shared the worst day of her life, it's time for him to leave.

Ten years later, Gigi, now a single mother consumed with bills and unfulfilled ambitions, bumps into Harry again and this time they fall deeply in love. When they move to London it feels like a chance for the happy ending she never dared to imagine. But it also highlights the differences in their class and cultures, which was something they laughed about until it wasn't funny anymore; until the traumatic birth of their baby leaves Gigi raw and desperately missing her best friends and her old life in New York.

As Gigi grieves for her brother and rages at the unspoken pain of motherhood, she realises she must somehow find a way back - not to the woman she was but to the woman she wants to be.


An unforgettable novel about love - for our partners, our children, our mothers, and ourselves - pushed to its outer limits.

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Ilona Bannister

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.

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