Set against the background of a hairdressing salon with the unlikely pairing of Malcolm, ageing, homosexual and coming to terms with the onset of Alzheimer's in his partner, and Alison, a naive young apprentice whose world is shattered when a gay colleague is killed by neo-nazi thugs. The exploration of pain, loss and the inhumanity of the holocaust is at times, almost unbearable, but amazingly there are also moments of humour and uplift that made this a mesmeric read for me.
'Oh, Mrs Soloff,' she blurted in surprise, 'there are numbers on your arm.' Mrs Soloff stopped and for a long moment stood staring at the floor, as if to catch her breath or recover from vertigo. 'Mrs Soloff?' Alison whispered.
She let go of Alison's arm, so Alison knew then that she had made a mistake, a mistake worse than falling on faux marble and shattering a hip. The numbers, she knew, had something to do with war. Mrs Soloff, bracing herself against the column, not even looking at Alison, said clearly, though not loud enough for anyone else to hear, 'You are a very stupid girl.'