1910. Jessica and Phyllis Melville have grown up at Ellinghurst, a family estate fraught with secrets. A headstrong beauty, Jessica longs for London — the glitter and glamour of debutante life — while bookish Phyllis dreams in vain of attending university. Into their midst walks Oskar Grunewald, a frequent visitor fascinated by the house but alternately tormented and ignored by the Melville children. Oskar seeks refuge in Ellinghurst’s enormous library. Meanwhile Theo, the adored Melville brother, eclipses everyone around him.
The Great War arrives to devastate and reshape their world. In a country unrecognizable from the idylls of their youth, the Melville sisters struggle to forge new paths without the guidance of the old rules. But Oskar’s life has become entwined with theirs once again, in ways—both immediate and unimaginable-- that will change all of their futures.
With elegance and insight, in prose characteristically “stirring and seductive” (The Economist) Clare Clark brings us a new story of a kind of old family whose reckoning with change will haunt and resonate for many generations.
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