1957, south-east suburbs of London. Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper, disappointed in love and – on the brink of 40 – living a limited existence with her truculent mother: a small life from which there is no likelihood of escape. When a young Swiss woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud. But the more Jean investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys.
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2021
‘A WORD-OF-MOUTH HIT’ Evening Standard
‘A very fine book… It’s witty and sharp and reads like something by Barbara Pym or Anita Brookner, without ever feeling like a pastiche’
‘A wonderful novel. I loved it’
‘Effortless to read, but every sentence lingers in the mind’
‘This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I honestly don’t want you to be without it’
‘Gorgeous… If you’re looking for something escapist and bittersweet, I could not recommend more’
‘Remarkable… Small Pleasures is no small pleasure’
‘An irresistible novel – wry, perceptive and quietly devastating’
Mail on Sunday
‘Chambers’ eye for undemonstrative details achieves a Larkin-esque lucidity’
‘An almost flawlessly written tale of genuine, grown-up romantic anguish’
The Sunday Times
1957, the suburbs of South East London. Jean Swinney is a journalist on a local paper, trapped in a life of duty and disappointment from which there is no likelihood of escape.
When a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud.
As the investigation turns her quiet life inside out, Jean is suddenly given an unexpected chance at friendship, love and – possibly – happiness.
But there will, inevitably, be a price to pay.
Book of the Year for: The Times, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Daily Express, Metro, Spectator, Red Magazine and Good Housekeeping