'Mum hardly smiled for weeks, you see, not since I got the flu' and Dad came down from Scottland secretly. But now she was smiling so much it was like she just could not stop, like it was bubbleing out of her and making her eyes blink. I thought hurra, that's good news, I wonder whats happened, it must be something really good, though of course I was also worrid that it might all just go away again. . .'
Lawrence is only a child, but he's the man in his family. His little sister is still too young to understand. When their mother, paranoid that the kids' father is stalking them, drives her young family through the night across the continent to Rome, what begins as an adventure ends in imprisonment and a desperate attempt finally to break free.
Told from the point of view of Lawrence, who is obsessed by the Roman Emperors but also by the stars, this profoundly moving novel shows how childhood innocence copes with adulthood come early, and how a boy's humour, protectiveness and intuitive understanding keeps a family from falling apart.
Matthew Kneale lives in Rome with his wife and two children. His bestselling novel English Passengers was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and winner of the 2000 Whitbread Book of the Year Award . His other awards include the Somerset Maugham Prize (for Mr. Foreigner ) and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (for Sweet Thames).