Sheila Harrison always looks forward to the descent of the summer visitors onto 'Seafret', her tall brick house right on the front at Blythney, in East Anglia. She loves the way her spare bedrooms are full, from June to September, with successive waves of children - schoolfriends of her own three and the waifs and strays sent by the Country Hosts' Association.
But Sheila is not prepared for the upheaval caused by one young girl, Anansi, who arrives from a background that Sheila can only guess at. Urban, streetwise, knowing beyond her years, Anansi refuses to be patronised by Sheila's well-meaning attempts to make her feel at home. She looks at Sheila, her family and friends, with eyes unclouded by familiarity - and drops a bombshell. Even when the dust has settled, summers will never be the same again.
Libby Purves is a writer and also a broadcaster who has presented the talk programme Midweek on Radio 4 since 1984 and formerly presented Today. She is a main columnist on the Times and in 1999 was named the Granada "What the Papers Say" Columnist of the Year, and awarded a O.B.E for services to journalism. She lives in Suffolk with her husband the broadcaster and writer Paul Heiney.