Related to: 'Ruffian On The Stair'

Virago

Devil By The Sea

Nina Bawden
Virago

The Ice House

Nina Bawden

At fifteen, Daisy, confident and cherished, is appalled to hear that Ruth's father locked her in the old garden ice house as a childhood punishment: no wonder her friend shelters in make believe. The revelation of that primitive cruelty cements a friendship in which protection plays no small part. Years later, middle aged, they remain close friends and live on the same street. So when Daisy's husband dies suddenly, Ruth's discovery that the marriage was unhappy is the first stage in the unravelling of the certainties she has wrapped around her adult life.Friendship, love, marriage and, above all, the scorching effects of adultery, come under the microscope in this dextrous novel. Journeying from a terrifying suburban household to its unexpected conclusion in the Egyptian Pharaoh's tombs, The Ice House is startling, tragic and humorous by turns.

Virago

Devil By The Sea

The first time the children saw the Devil, he was sitting next to them in the second row of deckchairs in the bandstand. He was biting his nails.'So begins the horrifying story of a madman loose in a small seaside town- his prey the very young and the very old. Seen through the eyes of Hilary- a precocious, highly imaginative, lonely child- it is a chilling story about the perceptiveness of children, the blindness of parents and the allure of strangers. As the adults carry on with their own grown-up capers, Hilary is led further and further into the twilight world of one man's terrifyingly warped view of normal life. But will she have the sense to resist it?

Virago

Circles Of Deceit

Nina Bawden

Circles of Deceit is narrated by a painter who specialises as a copyist, this is his story: 'bothered by bills and artistic conscience in about equal measure. . .susceptible to, bullied and badgered by women.' Major figures on the canvas are Clio, his child-bride; Helen, his first wife; his mother Maisie. They confound lies and the truth in a subtle weave, while the silent agony of the painter's son is a poignant reflection on the busy web of deception. And as the copyist transcribes his modern versions of Old Masters, so the past keeps breaking through the surface of the present, until fact and fiction like art and life, meet in a remarkable conclusion.

Virago

A Grain Of Truth

Nina Bawden
Virago

Dear Austen

Accidents happen to other people. But on On May 10th 2002, Nina Bawden discovered what it feels like to be one of the 'other people'. It was to be a lovely outing to Cambridge for a friend's birthday party. Nina Bawden and her husband Austen Kark boarded the 12:45 from Kings Cross and settled down with their books and papers. A few minutes later the train derailed. Seven people were killed and 76 badly hurt. Nina Bawden was gravely injured and Austen was killed instantly. In this powerful and poignant letter to her husband, Nina Bawden uses her considerable writing skills to try and make sense of it all. She explains how she - now in her late 70s - found herself the outspoken spokesperson for the survivors of the crash, interviewed here and abroad and even one of the characters portrayed in David Hare's The Permanent Way. Although liability has finally been admitted, as of October 2004, there has been no resolution to this tragedy, nor a public enquiry into how it happened.

Virago

A Grain Of Truth

Emma's anxious and manipulative plea, 'Someone listen to me', opens- and closes- this deliciously uncomfortable novel in which Nina Bawden explores myriad emotional disguises with her characteristic acuity. When Emma's father-in-law falls down the stairs to his death, she is convinced she pushed him in an act of wish-fulfilment. To her husband Henry and her close friend Holly, this is unthinkable. Guilt is simply Emma's obsession in a humdrum domestic existence enlivened by romantic fantasy. For Holly, who successfully fields a string of love affairs, sexual pleasures are more easily attainable, whereas Henry, a Divorce lawyer, prides himself on being a realist. Each tells their story in turn, illuminating and distorting their separate versions of the truth. As they do so, an intricate jigsaw of the private deceits with which they shore up everyday life emerges.

Virago

Family Money

Nina Bawden
Virago

A Little Love, A Little Learning

Nina Bawden

By the author of 'Circles of Deceit' and 'Tortoise by Candlelight', this novel shows the fragility of a family's equilibrium. Three children live with their mother and are happy in the love of their stepfather. The arrival of an aunt and the adolescent worries of the girls sets up tensions.

Virago

Anna Apparent

Nina Bawden

Who is Anna? Is she Anna-May Gates, the war-time evacuee who encounters neglect and unwitting abuse on a Welsh farm? The reticent, dutiful daughter of her foster-mother, Crystal? Giles's shy child-bride? Conscientious mother and housewife? Or Daniel's undemanding but sophisticated mistress? It takes catastrophe for Anna to emerge as an individual, claiming her own identity. Nina Bawden, as ever both acute and generous, delves skilfully into character and offers the richly textured story of a woman's life and stratagems, and of the flawed, kindly people who surround her.

Virago

Walking Naked

Nina Bawden

Laura is happily married, a mother and a successful novelist. Although she is prey to night terrors, she is adept at smoothing the disorder of reality into controlled prose. Walking Naked telescopes the whole of Laura's life- childhood, marriages, triumphs and disappointments- into a day in which the past and present converge. It begins with a game of tennis played for duty rather than amusement and progresses, via an afternoon party of old friends and jaded emotions, to a bewildering visit to Laura's son, imprisoned on a drugs' charge. At its close, the possibility of death within the family hauls unresolved conflicts centre stage and Laura strips herself of the posturing and self-deceit with which she has cloaked her vulnerability.

Nina Bawden

Nina Bawden, CBE, is one of Britain's most distinguished and best-loved novelists. She has published over forty novels and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Circles of Deceit. In 2004 she received the PEN Award for a Lifetime's Service to Literature.

Virago

Afternoon Of A Good Woman

Nina Bawden

Today, Tuesday, the day that Penelope has chosen to leave her husband, is the first really warm day of spring...'Penelope has always done her best to be a good wife, a good mistress, a good mother - and a good magistrate. Today she is more conscious that usual of the thinness of the thread that distinguishes good from bad, the law-abiding from the criminal. Sitting in court, hearing a short, sad case of indecent exposure and a long, confused theft, she finds herself examining her own sex life (how would all that sound in court?) her own actions and intentions while she observes the defendants in the dock.This novel is a tour-de-force , an ingeniously constructed novel in which Nina Bawden counterpoints public appearance with private behaviour in her heroine, Penelope. The result is a marvellous picture of a not always admirable but engagingly complex and very human heroine. As always, Bawden offers a compelling story, sharply witty and beautifully observed. But it is also an honest and provocative book tracing the divergent courses of morality and justice, and uncomfortably posing, as Penelope does of herself, the question: who and what is a good woman?

Virago

Familiar Passions

Nina Bawden
Virago

George Beneath A Paper Moon

Nina Bawden

George is an unusually successful travel agent, providing other people with the adventures he dare not risk. Though content to wrap himself in fantasies, he is haunted by the fact that 'the important things happened whilst his back was turned' and by the belief that he fathered the daughter- now a desirable young woman- of his best friends, Sam and Claire. To avoid temptation, George stumbles into a disastrous marriage and determines to mould himself into a supportive husband. But a holiday in Turkey snaps his private world when George finds himself in the midst of intrigue and murder and is forced to acknowledge that life is not the fairy-tale he'd imagined. In this superbly constructed and mercilessly observed novel, part comedy, part thriller, Nina Bawden exposes the fictions we impose on our lives.

Virago

A Nice Change

Nina Bawden

Amy thought the Hotel Parthenon in Greece would be a nice change for her husband, Labour MP Tom Jones. He is convinced that it's a bad idea as soon as they arrive and he spots Portia, his ex-mistress, in the minibus to the hotel. Also on board are an American publisher, a young doctor, a shady pair from London and two enigmatic, elderly twins. The scene is set for a wonderful comedy.

Virago

Tortoise By Candlelight

Nina Bawden

With the ferocity of a mother tiger defending her cubs, fourteen-year-old Emmie Bean watches over her household: her amiable drunken father, her gaunt, evangelical old grandmother, her beautiful, wayward sister Alice and most precious of all, eight-year-old Oliver, who has the countenance of an angel and the ethical sense of a cobra. But with the arrival of new neighbours, the outside world intrudes into the isolated privacy of family life and Emmie's kingdom is no longer secure. Combining the guile of a young child with the desperation of adolescence, Emmie fights to stave off the changes- and the revelations- that growing up necessarily brings. Powerful, heart-rending, but never sentimental, Tortoise by Candlelight is a captivating excursion into the landscape of youth.

Virago

A Woman Of My Age

Nina Bawden
Virago

A Woman Of My Age

Nina Bawden

Elizabeth and Richard are on holiday in Morocco, travelling from its fertile coast to the barren uplands beyond the Atlas mountains. During the expedition's adventures and mishaps, Elizabeth surveys her eighteen-year marriage and its accumulations of grievance, frustration and betrayal. Nina Bawden allows us to see the ambivalences and deceptions on both sides as this touching and often subversively comic novel moves towards a shocking catastrophe and a wryly surprising coda.

Virago

The Birds On The Trees

Nina Bawden

The expulsion from school of their eldest son shatters the middle-class secutiry of Maggie, a writer, and Charlie, a journalist. Since childhood, Toby has been diffident and self-absorbed, but the threat of drug taking and his refusal (or inability) to discuss his evident unhappiness, disturbs them sufficiently to seek professional help. Veering between private agony and public cheerfulness, Maggie and Charlie struggle to support their son and cope with the reactions- and advice- of friends and relatives. Noted for the acuity with which she reaches into the heart of relationships, Nina Bawden here excels in revealing the painful, intimate truths of a family in crisis. Toby's situation is explored with great tenderness, while Maggie's grief and self-recrimination are rigorously, if compassionately, observed. It is a novel that raises fundamental questions about parents and their children, and offers tentative hope but no tidy solutions.