The woman who presented herself at the offices of the respectable firm of London solicitors was frail, and her clothes hung off her body. She asked to see the firm's senior partner, Alexander Armstrong, who was amazed when her learnt her name. For Irene Baindor was a woman with a mysterious past.
Her major new novel, written in 1997 when the most remarkable author of our time was nearing the end of her life. The woman who presented herself at the offices of the respectable firm of London solicitors was, the receptionist decided, clearly a vagrant who had been sleeping on the streets. When she asked to see the firm s senior partner, Alexander Armstrong, she was at first shown the door but then the entire office staff were disrupted by Mr Armstrong s reaction when he learned his visitor s name clearly Irene Baindor was a woman with a past, and her emergence from obscurity was to signal the unravelling of a mystery that had baffled the lawyer for twenty-six years. What Irene the silent lady of the title had been doing, and where she had been, gradually emerged over the following weeks as Armstrong met the unlikely benefactors who had befriended her and helped her to build a useful and satisfying life in a sheltered environment. Now, at last, she was able to confront her tortured and violent past and find great happiness and contentment with the help of old friends and some newer ones. Displaying all the skills in plotting, scene-setting and characterization that made her Britain s best-loved storyteller, and drawing on her own first-hand experience of working-class life between two world wars and the 1950s, The Silent Lady is a fitting tribute to an irreplacable author."
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