'What I want you to have, Imogen, above all, is a sense of your own history; a sense of where you come from, and of the forces that made you.' Rosamund lies dying in her remote Shropshire home. But before she does so, she has one last task: to put on tape not just her own story but the story of the young blind girl, her cousin's granddaughter, who turned up mysteriously at her party all those years ago. This is a story of generations, of the relationships within a family - and of what goes to make a child. Called "the best English novelist of his generation" by Nick Hornby, Jonathan Coe extends his range in this magnificent account of a Shropshire family in the last half of the twentieth century.
As a young girl, Rosamond is sent to Shropshire to escape the Blitz. Here, in the countryside, she forms a close bond with her older cousin, Beatrix, a young woman haunted by anger and resentment.
Sixty years later, just before her death, Rosamond records her memories on cassettes, addressing them to a distant cousin—a near stranger-named Imogen. As Gill, her beloved niece, listens to these tapes, a heart—stopping family saga is revealed. In this masterful portrait of three generations of woman, Jonathan Coe exposes the profound reserves of hope and loss within the lives of ordinary woman.