Famous author Olive Wellwood writes a special private book, bound in different colours, for each of her children. In their rambling house near Romney Marsh they play in a story-book world - but their lives, and those of their rich cousins and their friends, the son and daughter of a curator at the new Victoria and Albert Museum, are already inscribed with mystery. Each family carries its own secrets.
They grow up in the golden summers of Edwardian times, but as the sons rebel against their parents and the girls dream of independent futures, they are unaware that in the darkness ahead they will be betrayed unintentionally by the adults who love them. This is the children's book.
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Intricately worked and sumptuously inlaid novel...seethes and pulses with an entangled life, of the mind and the senses alike. Colour and sensation flood Byatt's writing...she is a master-potter, or magic-working puppeteer - Independent
Superlatively displays both enormous reach and tremendous grip...sizzling with ideas and alive with imaginative energy, too...this is the most stirring novel AS Byatt has written since Possession - Sunday Times
Byatt is at her brilliant best...The fantasy here is dark and frightening, going to the edge of what a child can bear. Alongside such rich, strange meat, Harry Potter starts to feel like a vanilla snack for scaredy cats - Standpoint
Compelling...strenuously inclusive and also tremendously enriching - an intricate tale, energetically fashioned from sturdy strands of material, by 'a spinning fairy in the attic', an indefatigable storyteller - Irish Times
Astonishing power and resonance - Sunday Telegraph
A.S. Byatt is internationally acclaimed as a novelist, short story-writer and critic. Her books include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), and the quartet of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman. Educated at York and Newnham College, Cambridge, she taught at the Central School of Art and Design, and was Senior Lecturer in English at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer in 1983. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.