It is 1663, and a wall is being built around a great house. Wychwood is an enclosed world, its ornamental lakes and majestic avenues planned by Mr Norris, landscape-maker. A world where everyone has something to hide after decades of civil war, where dissidents shelter in the forest, lovers linger in secret gardens, and migrants, fleeing the plague, are turned away from the gates. Three centuries later, another wall goes up overnight, dividing Berlin, while at Wychwood, over one hot, languorous weekend, erotic entanglements are shadowed by news of historic change. A little girl, Nell, observes all.
Nell grows up and Wychwood is invaded. There is a pop festival by the lake, a TV crew in the dining room and a Great Storm brewing. As the Berlin Wall comes down a fatwa signals a different ideological faultline and a refugee seeks safety in Wychwood…
Praise from the Desmond Elliott Prize
“An ingenuous, ingenious masterwork assembled from varicoloured snatches of seismic events; scores of recovered memory fragments; a mindfulness of reflective essays; a generosity of psychological and cultural aperçus, as well as personal and political adventures in real time and place. Not forgetting that demesne-full of characters, many cunningly carried forward, both key and affective frame to the narrative picture.”
About the Author
Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize, the Political Book Awards Political Biography of the Year and the Costa Biography Award. Before that, she wrote Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions which was published in 1990 to wide acclaim, and Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen, published in 2004, which garnered similar praise. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. Lucy lives in London.