London, Summer, 1964. The Beatles have just released A Hard Days Night and the swinging sixties are fast approaching. Ralph, twelve years old, waves his mother goodbye as she disappears to the U.S. to work for a year, leaving him in the care of Doreen, an Irish housekeeper, and her husband Tom, a labourer.
It is never easy being stuck inside the pill-box of the skull and looking out, particularly when the world is in flux, when it is peopled by chancers and crooks, swingers and adulterers, unreliable friends and – very occasionally – even good people, and when the grown-ups around you play strange games that involve fighting as much as loving each other. Yet Ralph is nothing if not curious, as well as cunning if necessary: he hangs on and gradually, slowly, begins to understand the world as it really is, an experience that frightens, enlightens and surprises him.
A masterful novel by one of Ireland’s finest writers.