When you don’t know what tomorrow may bring, you have to live for today.
September 1940. England is at war and London has become an ever-fragile place for widowed Livia Ripley and her two young daughters. When Livia meets charismatic publisher Hugo, she is hopeful that her life is about to change for the better. But as clouds gather in the clear autumn sky, the wail of the siren heralds the arrival of the Luftwaffe.
As the raids intensify, Livia reluctantly volunteers to become a warden at the invitation of the intense and enigmatic Justin Connelly. Here she experiences the true reality and despair of war, a contrast to the world of comfort and cocktails provided in fleeting afternoons at the Balfour Hotel with Hugo. And it’s during these dangerous nights that Livia discovers a strength she never knew she had that will give her the power to save those she loves.
Reminiscent of classic films like Brief Encounter and The End of the Affair, this is a stunningly captured story of a woman finding herself whilst the world is at war.
“I am sitting here with tears pouring down my cheeks and wondering how I can ever find the words to describe this wonderful, shocking heartbreaking book. I loved everything about it: the brilliantly drawn characters, the heartrending story, and the utterly gorgeous writing. I was spellbound from start to finish. No other novel has brought home the horror and the pathos of life in London during the Blitz and the lives that somehow bravely had to go on. The detail is extraordinary and I really felt that I was there, living through the challenges alongside Livia. A Brief Affair is an absolute must read, a real triumph and convincing on every level.” Dinah Jefferies, author of The Tea-Planter’s Wife.
“A Brief Affair immediately pulls you in to the world of London at the height of the Blitz through the eyes of newly-widowed Livia, an amateur photographer, who is coping with two young children and all the stresses of nightly bombing raids. She is also suffering from her own guilt about the childhood loss of a sister, which undermines her confidence at every turn. In the end, helping others helps her to find herself. But this bald account makes it sound too plain a tale – in fact Margaret Leroy’s writing brings a wonderfully new-minted feel to the telling, just as Livia’s camera lens focuses on the world in a changed light. She has a great turn of phrase, a wonderful way with metaphor, a compelling command of character. I just loved her descriptions; the details of ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances which make you feel right there in the terrifying streets or the claustrophobic shelters, and found myself reading far too late into the night to find out what happened. What a great read.” Liz Trenow, author of The Poppy Factory.
“I really loved this novel. I enjoyed the fresh and evocative language and wonderfully detailed description which utterly captures the place and time. I very much liked the character of Livia from the start - a complex and interesting heroine who grows during the story and discovers her own strength and independence by helping others. Other characters shone out for me - particularly Justin and Aggie - and the relationship between mother and daughters is portrayed with great sensitivity and perception. Margaret Leroy has constructed a powerful and compelling picture of a family struggling to survive in London at war.” Rosanna Ley, author of The Villa.
“In A Brief Affair, Margaret Leroy chronicles the fortunes of Livia, a widow struggling to survive the Blitz with her two young children. Livia’s haunting past, perilous present and uncertain future make her truly unforgettable. Written with precision and grace, A Brief Affair is one of the most vivid and compelling portraits of war torn London I’ve read. Brilliant!” Pam Jenoff, author of Kommandant’s Daughter.
Published by Little Brown. Australia and New Zealand: October 8. UK: February 11 2016. The ebook version will be available in the UK from October 8.