Alice lives comfortably in her leafy London suburb with Noel, her second husband, whose main ambition in life is to better his golf handicap. But then her glorious, bohemian mother Jocelyn, who lives in shabby splendour in a crumbling house on a clifftop in Cornwall, becomes ill and Alice goes to care for her. There she finds that the house of her childhood - when it was a hippy commune where her mother's fashionable artist and musician friends used to congregate - has become almost unmanageable, with her brother and his wife permanently stoned instead of caring for Jocelyn and the house, and their children running wild and living according to the tenets of the SAS Survival Handbook (trapping rabbits and shooting seagulls). lice is horrified by what she finds, and Noel considers that Jocelyn should be put in a home and the house sold. But her own children love the freedom and beauty that they discover in Cornwall, and Alice begins to wonder whether her chosen way of life is necessarily the right one.
Judy Astley was frequently told off for day-dreaming at her drearily traditional school but has found it to be the ideal training for becoming a writer. There were several false-starts to her career- secretary at an all-male Oxford college (sacked for undisclosable reasons), at an airline (decided, after a crash and a hijacking, that she was safer elsewhere) and as a dress designer (quit before anyone noticed she was adapting Vogue patterns). She spent some years as a parent and as a painter before sensing that the day was approaching when she'd have to go out and get a Proper Job. With a nagging certainty that she was temperamentally unemployable, and desperate to avoid office coffee, having to wear tights every day and missing out on sunny days on Cornish beaches with her daughters, she wrote her first novel, Just for the Summer. She has now had eleven novels published by Black Swan.