Who is Anna? Is she Anna-May Gates, the war-time evacuee who encounters neglect and unwitting abuse on a Welsh farm?
The reticent, dutiful daughter of her foster-mother, Crystal?
Giles's shy child-bride? Conscientious mother and housewife? Or Daniel's undemanding but sophisticated mistress? It takes catastrophe for Anna to emerge as an individual, claiming her own identity.
Nina Bawden, as ever both acute and generous, delves skilfully into character and offers the richly textured story of a woman's life and stratagems, and of the flawed, kindly people who surround her.