The Nautilus, a strange building shaped like the chambered shell of the same name, was built in South London in the early 1930s.
Designed on Modernist and Utopian principles, it was a haven for a floating community of cosmopolitan refugees, intellectuals and artists.
Now, at the end of the century, only two of the original inhabitants still occupy their chambers - Celeste Zylberstein, joint architect with her late husband of the Nautilus, and Francis Campion, an elderly poet.
Gus Crabb, a dealer in bric-a-brac, is the only other resident until, to the Nautilus, like a hermit crab seeking a home, comes Rowena Snow.
Of Indian/Scottish parentage, orphaned, without family or friends, Rowena is in search of her own Utopia - or the Heligoland of her childhood imagination.
Shorlisted for the Orange Prize for fiction and the Whitbread Novel Award.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 208 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 01/01/2004
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099273592