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On the night of May 3rd, 1942, fifteen-year-old Alma Braithwaite and her fellow boarders at Goldwyn's school huddle in an air-raid shelter as bombs rain down on Exeter in one of the Baedeker raids. By the time the girls emerge, half the school is in ruins and the city centre has been destroyed. Twenty-one years on, Alma lives alone in the family house and teaches music at her old school. She's moderately content, until the death of the long-serving headmistress brings a new broom in the form of the steely, modernizing Miss Yates. A new student starts too - the daughter of a man Alma hasn't seen since 1942, when he played a pivotal role in her life. Suddenly, Alma is taken back to the summer that followed the raids, a summer of numbing loss yet also of youthful exuberance, friendship and dancing. In this enthralling vel, Clare Morrall captures the impact of the Second World War on those at home, particularly the ones too young to take part, and poignantly conveys the long shadow it cast for a generation of women.
Clare Morrall's first novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, was published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize that year. She has since published the novels Natural Flights of the Human Mind, The Language of Others, The Man Who Disappeared, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read in 2010, The Roundabout Man and After the Bombing. Born in Exeter, Clare Morrall now lives in Birmingham. She works as a music teacher, and has two daughters.