'Family love is one of the most powerful elemental forces on earth, and at that moment, our last moment as a unit of three, we rode a great curling triumphant wave of it, all together. Death may have thought that he won, but I think otherwise.'
There is no right way to deal with the loss of a beloved son. Marion and Tom are doing their dignified best, but their own relationship is taking a battering.
So when a fierce, strange woman turns up and demands to see the dead boy, Marion is almost glad of the distraction. Against Tom's wishes, she determines to find out more about her son's life away from home.
The quest takes her out of her comfortable, conventional world to a shabby office in East London, and a series of shocks. Tom, furious, finds his own solution, and amid scandal, sorrow and exaltation the quiet Middle-Englanders discover that there is more than one kind of family.
Libby Purves is a writer and also a broadcaster who has presented the talk programme Midweek on Radio 4 since 1984 and formerly presented Today. She is a main columnist on the Times and in 1999 was named the Granada "What the Papers Say" Columnist of the Year, and awarded an O.B.E for services to journalism. She lives in Suffolk with her husband, the broadcaster and writer Paul Heiney.