"Kissing Alice" is the darkly intimate story of a family in which the ties of love and hate, fear and jealousy, innocence and experience, have all become dangerously confused...A remarkable first novel of family, love and loss, set against the unfolding of twentieth-century English life, an entirely haunting debut. Arthur Craythorne has barely married Queenie May when he is called away to fight in the First World War; when he returns from the trenches, he is a changed man. He struggles to contain the violent flashes of anger he confuses with love; and his two young daughters, Florrie and Alice, strive hard to please the stranger who calls himself their father. Although Florrie follows Arthur into the Catholic church, it is Alice he seems to favour. They spend hours alone together, reading from a copy of Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience" - his most treasured possession, stolen from a church library before the war. Florrie seethes with envy of her sister as she watches them grow closer, but Arthur's attentions towards Alice are more twisted than either of them yet realize or acknowledge.
After their father dies, the sister's jealous rivalry intensifies when they both fall in love with the same man...But this time it is Florrie who wins his affection, and Alice who is left alone to cope with all that remains unspoken between them. Finally, many years' later, when long-buried family secrets slowly resurface, no-one is quite prepared to face the truth.
Publisher: Atlantic Books