World War II is over, and a new decade is beginning, but for an East End teenage brother and sister living on the edge of the law, life has been suspended. Sent away to a tuberculosis sanatorium to learn the way of a patient, they find themselves in the company of army and air force officers, a car salesman, a mysterious German woman and an American merchant seaman. They discover that a cure is tantalisingly just out of reach, and only by inciting wholesale rebellion can freedom be snatched.
"Her novel is at once a beautifully detailed character study, a poignant family history and a richly evocative portrait of the late 1970s." (
The Clothes on Their Backs)
"A stylish, ambitious novel." ( Glamour, on Upstairs at the Party)
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Moving, Heartbreaking, Quality Writing.
The subject matter- life in a post-war TB sanatorium - may not sound like thrilling material for a historical novel; but in the hands of prize-winning novelist,Linda Grant, the mundane becomes intriguing and rewarding listening.
The lives of several TB patients become intertwined as they 'learn to be patients' and to wait for a new miracle cure for TB, desperately hoping that they will be chosen for the experimental treatment. The lives of these people are all tragic in different ways and as the story progresses they face up to their illness in a variety of ways. There are happy and sad endings, personal triumphs and failures and the formation of relationships between class and cultural divides.
Set against the early days of television and the NHS this is a story of morality, illness, broken promises, love and the lifelong effects of guilt.
The narration was pretty average, hence the 4* rating, and the publisher's blurb went a bit over the top on this one - the all out rebellion of patients was more like a polite protest in my view.
But overall I really enjoyed the story and I learned a lot about the lives and fates of TB sufferers in the 1950s.