This starts off so you think it’s going to be magical realism with a virgin birth but it’s much more down to earth than that. Brilliant fifties’ setting, strongly realised characters and a detective-style plot that slowly reveals. It’s witty and subtle as the pain of duty and repressed emotion do battle with unexpected love. A real pleasure to read.
As she watched, her mother glanced up at her and quickly down, the light catching her glasses and turning them to dazzling mirrors, and it occurred to Jean with a jolt that she had no idea what colour her mother’s eyes were. She must have known once, but it was years – a decade perhaps – since they had made proper eye contact.
They had both been witnesses to each other’s disappointments and tragedies, but it had always been understood by Jean that it was weak and shameful to dwell on them and so their conversation never strayed far from the surface of things.