'This is one of the most tender, beautiful books I have ever read. Please, please order it now. I honestly don't want you to be without it. It is exquisite' - Lucy Mangan * 'The glorious literary equivalent of pulling the duvet over your head... If you admire Tessa Hadley or Anne Tyler (and there are shades of Barbara Pym too), then this is one for you' - Bookseller, Book of the Month * 'The 21st century heir to Jane Austen, Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Taylor' - Amanda Craig, author of The Lie of the Land * 'Will draw you in from the first page and keep you gripped until the very end' - Ruth Hogan, author of The Keeper of Lost Things
1957, south-east suburbs of London. Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper, disappointed in love and - on the brink of forty - living a limited existence with her truculent mother.
When a young Swiss woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud. But the more she investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys: Gretchen herself, her husband Howard - with his dry wit and gentle disposition - and her charming daughter Margaret. But they are the subject of the story Jean is researching for the newspaper, a story that increasingly seems to be causing dark ripples across all their lives.
And yet Jean cannot bring herself to discard the chance of finally having a taste of happiness. But there will be a price to pay - and it will be unbearable.