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When Percy and Betty Harlency abandon their seedy Streatham pub, for the Copper Kettle Tearoom in Kent, life for their daughter April changes dramatically. She is befriended by the wonderfully dangerous Ruby, whose red hair and brutal home life emphasise her love of fire, and by the immaculately dressed Mr Greenridge who likes to follow her around the village. Mingling the innocent with the sinister and laced with the tragic and the bizarre, this is a rare evocation of a 1950s childhood.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749394066
ISBN-10: 0749394064
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 127mm x 15mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 23-Jun-1997
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » April Harling's parents own The Copper Kettle tearooms in Stonebridge. Her best friend Ruby's home is the pub, The Rising Sun. April's background is kindly and ordinary, Ruby's harsh and dramatic. Sheena Mackay's evocative novel, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1996, tells of the deeply felt friendship that develops between two schoolgirls, contrasting the love that surrounds April and the callous, abusive behaviour of Ruby's parents. A funny, touching, sometimes heartrending account of the joys and panics of childhood in the 1950s. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Shena Mackay

Shena Mackay was born in Edinburgh. She is the author of four previous collections of stories - Babies in Rhinestones, Dreams of Dead Women's Handbags, The Laughing Academy and The World's Smallest Unicorn. Her novels include Dunedin, The Orchard on Fire (which was shortlisted for the 1996 Booker Prize), The Artist's Widow and Heligoland (which was shortlisted for the 2003 Orange Prize).

Books By Author Shena Mackay

Orchard on Fire by Shena Mackay

The Orchard on Fire

Paperback, April 2016
Dunedin by Shena Mackay


Paperback, April 2016
Dancing on the Outskirts by Shena Mackay

Dancing on the Outskirts

Hardback, November 2015
Atmospheric Railway by Shena Mackay

The Atmospheric Railway

Paperback, November 2010