‘Tender, evocative’ TLS
‘Richly engaging’ Spectator
A Radio 4 Serial Fiction Book of the Week
‘A characteristically tender novel about a young man growing up in the shadow of one war and the whispers of the next’ Observer
‘A wonderful novel about relationships, particularly between a mother and son. A compelling read, beautifully crafted and sensitively written’ Irish Examiner
Laura, a laundress, meets her young husband when they are both placed in service in Teignmouth in 1914. They have a baby, Charles, but his father returns home from the trenches a damaged man, already ill with the tuberculosis that will soon leave Laura a widow.
As a new war looms, Charles signs up for the navy as a coder. His escape from the tight, gossipy confines of Launceston to a more colourful life in action sees him blossom, as he experiences the possibility of death, and the excitement – even terror – of a love that is as clandestine as his work.
‘Stands with the best queer literary fiction of a historical bent, illuminated as it is by Gale’s devilish wit and talent for both social observation and intricacies of character’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘A wonderful novel – a touching, utterly convincing portrait of the nascent artist’ Mail on Sunday
‘A deeply moving novel. The portrait of a complex relationship that constricted as much as it sustained is brilliantly done’ The Tablet