A rather mysterious old clergyman is dead, and his most adoring child, sixteen-year-old Athene is desolate. A statuesque beauty, greatly admired, she is also lonely, untouchable and living a secret life of fairly dangerous fantasy.
Athene's mother, at once highly organised and monumentally vague, dispatches her children to spend the holidays with assorted friends and relatives. For Athene, victim of plans gone awry, that golden summer after the funeral becomes deliciously puzzling fodder for her fantasy. Stuck in a seaside hotel with an inarticulate and beautiful boy, marooned in a seaside cottage with a painter, and finally alone in an empty school with a young master, she finds that men are not all as saintly as her father- and that she is far from saintly herself...
Jane Gardam is the only writer to have been twice awarded the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel of the Year, for The Queen of the Tambourine and The Hollow Land. She also holds a Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature. She is the author of a number of volumes of acclaimed stories including Black Faces, White Faces (David Higham Prize and the Royal Society of Literature's Winifred Holtby Prize); The Pangs of Love (Katherine Mansfield Prize); Going into a Dark House (Silver Pen Award from PEN); Missing the Midnight; and The People on Privilege Hill.
Her novels include God on the Rocks, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Faith Fox, The Flight of the Maidens and the bestselling Old Filth, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2005.
Jane Gardam was born in Yorkshire and now lives in east Kent and the Pennines. She is married with three grown-up children. She was awarded an OBE in January 2009.