A generous hearted novel of modern family life
Kit Milcourt - impatient, quirky, idealistic and brilliant - has been a climber, diver in exotic waters and affluent young city banker. Now, because of his beloved Anna, he is a teacher. Glumly mediocre Sandmarsh High School, reeling under assaults from Inspectors and its own unpromising pupils, is hard put to contain his maverick ideas. Year Seven, on the other hand, love them. Only the soothing presence of Anna keeps the peace.
But Anna can't guard her erratic husband on the school trip: instead a far darker, more malevolent staffroom presence crosses Europe and discovers what Kit has secretly planned for the children amid the dim alleys of winter Venice. But children are unpredictable too, and things move rapidly beyond both teachers' control.
Between farce and tragedy the resulting events swiftly change Kit's and Anna's live in unthinkable ways, strain a great love to the limit and open a dark chasm into the past.
done with a finesse which makes the words live on in your memory long after the novel has been put away - Gina Sykes, The Examiner
a brilliant dissection of troubled lives - Prima, London
'Her story of Kit Milcourt [...] is passionately felt and a moving expos? of the graveyard of talent, imagination and energy that is the domain of too many schools.' Elizabeth Buchan, Night & Day (Dec '98)
an idiosyncratic blend of her journalistic voice ... With the skills of a writer who understands the proper balance in a novel between issue and narrative. ... This is her best novel ... [and] will find an answering echo in many readers - Elizabeth Buchan, The Times
'a good story, crisply and lightly told, that touches on many of teaching's current preoccupation and dilemmas and that grows in depth as it unfolds' The Times Educational Supplement
Purves' fourth novel is a skilled and serious attempt to deal with society's sensitivity (or oversensitivity) towards the treatment of children - Nottingham Evening Post
'the kind of book that you race to finish and then think about for a long time afterwards' Beverly Davies,The Lady
Libby Purves is a writer and also a broadcaster who has presented the talk programme Midweek on Radio 4 since 1984 and formerly presented Today. She is a main columnist on the Times and in 1999 was named the Granada "What the Papers Say" Columnist of the Year, and awarded a O.B.E for services to journalism. She lives in Suffolk with her husband the broadcaster and writer Paul Heiney.