Seventeen-year-old Margot Allan was a respectable vicar’s daughter and madly in love with her fiancé Harry. But when Harry was reported Missing in Action from the Western Front, and Margot realised she was expecting his child, there was only one solution she and her family could think of in order to keep that respectability. She gave up James, her baby son, to be adopted by her parents and brought up as her younger brother.
Now two years later the whole family is gathering at the Vicarage for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking for Margot being so close to James but unable to tell him who he really is. But on top of that, Harry is also back in the village. Released from captivity in Germany and recuperated from illness, he’s come home and wants answers. Why has Margot seemingly broken off their engagement and not replied to his letters? Margot knows she owes him an explanation. But can she really tell him the truth about James?
Sally Nicholls grew up in Stockton-on-Tees, and after school, travelled the world, working for a period at a Red Cross hospital in Japan. Sally's first novel, Ways to Live Forever, won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and she has been shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Costa Children's Book Award, and the Carnegie Medal, twice. She lives in Oxford.
Nuanced and evocative, this is bittersweet perfection
Books of the Year, Guardian
Sally Nicholls conjures another era with a miraculous lightness of touch that fills me with joy and envy. Her characters don’t just leap off the page, they grab you by the collar, demand your sympathy and surprise you at every turn
Gorgeously bittersweet, a festive classic in the making
Books of the Year, Observer
An engulfing historical novel
Books of the Year, The Times
This poignant novel confronts truths, secrets, changing social mores and the awful choices made during wartime