I’m a big fan of Margaret Leroy and think she’s a little under-rated – her prose has the poetic, luminous quality that I associate with writers like Helen Dunmore and the delicate worlds she conjures into existence have a depth and resonance that belies their apparent fragility.
In A Brief Affair she returns to the Second World War, a period in history that she has made her own in novels such as The Collaborator, and explores the struggle that photographer turned air raid warden Livia has in coming to terms with the social, emotional and familial dislocation that the Blitz leaves behind in its terrible wake. There is a compelling tension between the limpid quality of Leroy’s language and the almost dystopian picture she paints of London in the darkest hours of 1940. Haunted by the accidental death of her elder sister when they were both children for which she holds herself responsible, Livia is determined to protect her own two daughters at any cost.
A heartrending story of guilt and absolution.