Peerless Flats, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Sixteen-year-old Lisa has high hopes for her first year in London.

But squeezed into a temporary council flat with her bohemian mother and a little brother obsessed with foxes, she is not off to the best start.

Ambitious to be more like her elusive, glamorous sister, Ruby, who lives life to the full, Lisa trails through the city, dabbling with drugs and romance, and refusing to lose faith in her belief that something fantastic will happen to mark the rest of her life.


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Review by

This is the fourth book I've read of Esther Freud's, although it's one of the first she wrote. Peerless Flats is the story of sixteen year old Lisa, her mother, brother Max and her older, wayward but glamorous sister Ruby. The family moves to a council housing estate in London, Peerless Flats where Lisa, a drama student, yearns to be more like her sister and experiments accordingly with heroin and sex.Esther Freud writes evocatively about childhood, particularly about girls and their mothers, though unlike the children in my favourite of hers, Hideous Kinky, Lisa and Ruby are far from innocent. However, like the girls and their mother in Hideous, they are searching for a way to carve their mark on the world.The book is a gritty portrayal of life in a particular period in London (the early eighties - I think, because it was never made explicit) for a particular class of people. It certainly won't be among my favourites of Freud, but it was an enjoyable (though occasionally uncomfortable) read nonetheless.

Review by

This felt a bit like reading a Young Adult book, probably because its protagonist, Lisa, is a 17 year old living in London dealing with relationship and family issues. Lisa is a vulnerable person, easily influenced and exposed to drugs and sex at an earlier stage than many people would think healthy. Freud's recurring theme of the drama school is present but doesn't dominate the storyline as much as Lisa's pursuit of love and attention (from her largely absent father, her drug addict sister Ruby, childhood friend Tom and new acquaintance Quentin). The setting of 1969/70 didn't ring true to me and although I did have a clear picture of Lisa in my mind, I found the storyline disjointed and difficult to believe.

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