The Dark Circle

Linda Grant

It’s 1949, the Second World War is over and a new decade of recovery is beginning, but for East End teenage twins who have been living on the edge of the law, life has been suspended. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, they are sent away to a sanatorium in Kent to take the cure and submit to the authority of the doctors, learning the deferential way of the patient.

Through doors newly opened by the year-old NHS go Lenny, a street dandy in his striped London drape suit, and his sister Miriam in her cherry-red felt coat and beret pinned gingerly onto stiff blue-black curls. Trapped in a sterile, closed environment, the twins find themselves in wider company than they’ve ever known – air force officers, a car salesman, a young university graduate, a mysterious German woman, a member of the aristocracy and the late arrival blasting through their lethargic submission to authority – an American merchant seaman with big ideas about how to wake up the joint. Together, they discover that a cure is tantalisingly just out of reach and only by inciting wholesale rebellion can freedom be snatched.

Linda Grant was born in Liverpool and now lives in London. She has published non-fiction and novels to great acclaim: The Cast Iron Shore won the David Higham First Novel Prize; When I Lived in Modern Times won the Orange Prize for Fiction; Still Here was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; The Clothes on Their Backs won the South Bank Show Literature Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It was followed by We Had It So Good and Upstairs at the Party. She is also the author of Sexing the Millennium; Remind Me Who I am Again; The People on the Street, which won the Lettre Ulysses Prize for Literary Reportage; and The Thoughtful Dresser.

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Shortlist announced - 21 Apr

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