You're a young woman. You can choose. Which career to pursue. Who to have sex with. Who to marry and have children - or not - with. This is now. Step into the shoes of Olive. You're a happy, open-hearted girl. Your (tricky) mother is dead and you live with your father in a solid, Edwardian house with apple trees in the garden.
Your passion for books gets you easily into university, where the world is surely waiting for you. There, you meet a boy. But then you make a mistake - the kind any one of us could make - and face an impossible choice.
You are young, still, and full of hope. You can't possibly know how that mistake will sit in your heart. Or that when you get a job at a school you will fall in love with an older colleague.
But the affair must stay secret; the world won't have it any other way.
All you have ever wanted is for your heart to be free.
But you are living in a time and place where freedoms we now take for granted had the power to destroy. PRAISE FOR SUSAN HILL 'Subtle and profoundly moving... one of our finest novelists' Sunday Times 'Almost unbearably poignant... this short book will live long in the memory' Independent on Sunday'A novel of great structural and stylistic control' Guardian