Youthful beauty, intellectual brilliance, physical passion, tragedy and disgrace are all in this wonderful novel as told through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl.
Sophie is a self-contained, exceptionally bright child who has no known parents and has spent all her life in a children's home. Her life is transformed when she wins a scholarship to Tatham's, a kind of Oxbridge university for teenagers, but this is only the start of an education as much emotional as intellectual. She falls hopelessly in love with Lucas, adored gay son of a wealthy Jewish family and, through him, is drawn into a tangle of betrayed friendship and forbidden passions that ends in tragedy and disgrace.
But school is only half the story. Spanning the years 1975 to 1979 the chapters alternate between terms and holidays, between Sophie's dogged pursuit of the glittering prizes and her slow, painful discovery of who she is and where she belongs. Through other people's families, and especially other people's mothers, she learns as much about the mysterious laws of class and love as she learns from her teachers about the Latin and Greek that will prove her passport to security.
Patrick Gale was born in 1962 on the Isle of Wight. He was educated at Winchester and Oxford, and now lives in north Cornwall. He is the author of thirteen novels, including 'The Facts of Life', 'Rough Music' and his most recent work 'Notes from an Exhibition'.