twelve-year-old daughter. Zoe reads girls' ballet books and longs for lessons; a thing denied her until a chance encounter on a school French exchange. Meanwhile, on the east coast of Africa, Hattie, Josh's first love, now writes
Ali Bobrow is an other-worldly single parent with a fraught nine-year-old daughter, a malevolent 'ex' with a grabby new wife, and an underused artistic talent. A pushover when it comes to needy neighbours and uninvited children, she allows her house to be the local drop-in centre, until she collides with Noah Glazer, who falls for her pale red hair. A solid man of science, Noah walks into her over-populated life bringing good sense, order and security. But ten years on, Ali is drawn back into the complexities of her past: an old lover, two ex-spouses, a colleague from clown school and a small smuggled cat all help to rock the boat.
Jem is a joyful mystery to Alice. She is something to give thanks for. And when she disappears from Alice's life, as suddenly as she entered it, a whirl of glamour, subversion and literary references, Alice is left bereft. But then she meets Giovanni, presumptuous and hectoring, passionate and beautiful, who leads her back to her childhood friend and the mystery and chaos still surrounding her. Alice finds herself being seduced all over again...
Dinah and her sister Lisa are growing up in 1950s South Africa, where racial laws are tightening. They are two little girls from a dissenting liberal family. Big sister Lisa is strong and sensible, while Dinah is weedy and arty. At school, the sadistic Mrs Vaughan-Jones is providing instruction in mental arithmetic and racial prejudice. And then there's the puzzle of lunch break. 'Would you rather have a native girl or a koelie to make your sandwiches?' a first-year classmate asks. But Dinah doesn't know the answer, because it's her dad who makes her sandwiches. As the apparatus of repression rolls on, Dinah finds her own way. As we follow her journey through childhood and adolescence, we enter into one of the darker passages of twentieth-century history.
Sparky Christina and her saintly adopted sister Pam couldn't be more different. And when they meet similarly mismatched friends Jago and Peter, the four embark on a dazzling series of pairings and partings, outrageous coincidences and eleventh-hour entrances interrupted one disastrous Halloween when schoolboy revelry turns horribly wrong. Three years on, as Christina analyses the wit, cruelty and crossed genders of Shakespearean comedy, the cast of her own life reunites and the curtain falls on some gloriously unexpected partnerships.
Lydia is killed in a car accident, but she returns to her bereft sister as a benign ghost who, nonetheless, comes to haunt the lives of those around her in unexpected ways: Jonathan Goldman, whose flat Lydia is running from when she is knocked down; his daughter Stella, who has discovered that her father has been having an affair with the gladiatorial Sonia; Stella's genius painter-boy lover Izzy, whom she leaves behind as she flees to the arms of kindly Peregrine. Along with good stepmothers, bad mothers, strange professors and wicked monks, their lives collide in a breathtaking finale.