Petra Appleton has always been the ugly duckling - it was her younger sister Caroline who flew off to London to become a swan after stunning her family with a playful appearance as a newspaper model girl when she was only 17. Petra's own attempts to make a life seem always to have left her on the fringe of things, confused and used. A conventional marriage removed her from her family, but only to recreate the choking domesticity of her childhood. Petra is forced to re-examine her relationship with her glamorous sister, discovering how little she knows about Caroline and the cracks on the surface that betrayed the greater fissures in what had seemed to be a carefree jet-setting life. Counterpointing Petra's memories are the utterly different views and recollections of her elderly neighbour Frederic, a refugee from Nazi Germany, and a man whose gentle simplicity conceals a macabre secret. Annie Bullen deftly captures the atmosphere of the superficially prosperous but emotionally starved Appleton family, whose daughters have so much more in common than they have ever supposed...

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