Elizabeth Buchan’s most literary novel yet and as ever the writing is absolutely beautiful. It’s a true coming of age story, set in 1959, starting when orphaned Sophie leaves boarding school at the age of eighteen to become a domestic drudge to the vicar and his wife who have brought her up since her mother’s death years before.

The first half of the book is set in a stultifying Sussex village and Sophie longs to escape, instead finding not one, but two loves, which almost tie her down. Not to mention the thorny issue of getting hold of her inheritance before she’s twenty-one. Little by little we get to know her – as she gets to know her adult self – and feel for her sense of outsideness. The villagers around her are superbly drawn and as a reader you can actually feel how hemmed in she is.

Then, finally, to Paris, where a whole new world awaits. A different world, but an equally challenging one, although in different ways. Characters and settings here are wonderfully drawn too and the weight of the German occupation still hangs heavy over the city in so many small ways.

Although I found the story a little slow to start it completely absorbed me. More absolute brilliance from one of my favourite authors.