The Empty Hearth by Kitty Neale
'Dad loves Mum - loves her to the point of obsession. He's jealous when she shows us any affection.'
Set in Battersea in the Fifties and Sixties, the Pratchett family have to contend with coalman Alfie Pratchett's obsessive jealousy. Although Alfie is a bully, his two teenage children, John and Millie, have learned to dodge him and his moods. The main concern of ugly duckling Millie - who looks nothing like her handsome brother John - is to protect their mum, Eileen.
When a serious crisis occurs at the Pratchetts' home, Alfie is forced to watch his whole world gradually collapse around him. Their old life has gone forever, and a new one has begun - one in which rape, debt, alcoholism and insanity play their parts. And redemption is a long time coming.
Kitty Neale is a storyteller of rare power, unafraid to uncover the dark secrets that lie behind the well-scrubbed doorsteps of family homes.