Mara and Frankie are cousins and best friends, growing up in the stifling atmosphere of Swansea in the 1950s, amid the tight knot of an extended family that thrives on gossip, petty feuds and innuendo.Inseparable as children, the two girls develop a strange co-dependent relationship in which love, jealousy, hate and rivalry intermingle, especially when both develop an attachment to their cousin Aaron. Mara is shy and conventional whilst Frankie is effusive but incredibly needy - an emotional hunger that is accentuated when her father dies at an early age and her mother remarries. Their relationship becomes even more precarious as they reach adolescence in the heady atmosphere of the 60s - a decade in which notions of family and kinship are overturned. Together they are drawn to the idealism of 'free love' and social revolution. But the dream turns sour and a bitter battle of wills results. Years later, Mara sees a nostalgic television film that includes a clip of Frankie in her youth and this serves as a springboard to her past, forcing her to confront unanswered questions about her cousin's death.
Reminiscent of Kate Atkinson's BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM, this is a powerful exploration of friendship and of one generation's ultimately destructive quest for freedom.
Stevie Davies is the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Swansea University and is also a novelist, historian and literary critic. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.