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‘An extremely original and disconcerting story’ – Daily Telegraph

A girl returns from boarding school to her sleepy Merseyside hometown and waits to be reunited with her childhood friend, Harriet, chief architect of all their past mischief. She roams listlessly along the shoreline and the woods still pitted with wartime trenches, and encounters ‘the Tsar’ – almost old, unhappily married, both dangerously fascinating and repulsive.

Pretty, malevolent Harriet finally arrives – and over the course of the long holidays draws her friend into a scheme to beguile then humiliate the Tsar, with disastrous, shocking consequences.

A gripping portrayal of adolescent transgression, Beryl Bainbridge’s classic first novel remains as subversive today as when it was written.

Reviews

An extremely original and disconcerting story
Daily Telegraph
A sharp, chilling novel . . . The ending has real shock effect
Sunday Times
Compelling, horrifying, dramatic . . . [a] Molotov cocktail of teenage insecurity and dangerously partial understanding of maturity
Evening Standard