About The Book
From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have the perfect life, but they’re harbouring a secret that threatens to fracture their entire world.
Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.
When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, they have to face an uncomfortable truth: Mabel has epilepsy – one of the ‘undesirable’ conditions that Edward campaigns against.
Forced to hide their daughter away so as to not jeopardise Edward’s life’s work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.
Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?
Eleanor’s first encounter with Edward is seared so deep into her mind; the clarity of the memory takes her breath away, just as he did when she first set eyes on him eight years ago, in 1920. The broad shoulders beneath the sharp cut of his uniform; the medals lining his chest. A quick glance and she had recognised the Military Cross, awarded for exemplary gallantry. From behind her typewriter she had wondered, as he folded his tall frame into a chair outside the brigadier general’s room in the War Office, just what acts of bravery he had undertaken. Those haunting eyes which fixed on hers, just a little longer than strictly appropriate for a captain waiting for his decommissioning appointment. She remembers the effect he had on her, the hot fluttering in her chest and how the words she was typing melted and swam on the page in front of her. She could still feel the soft spring breeze from the open window touch her skin; the grind of traffic rumbling along Horse Guards Avenue below, the press of his eyes on her flushed cheeks as she tried, fruitlessly, to concentrate on her work. From the corner of her eye, she’d watched him take a pen and notebook from his top pocket and, forehead wrinkled in thought, begin to write. She’d wondered if he was a poet or perhaps planning his words for the brigadier.
When Edward had disappeared behind the brigadier general’s closed door, Eleanor became aware of the strong thrum of her heart, the prickle of sweat on her skin, the rasp of her breath in her throat. The knowledge he would walk back out at some point had her patting her hair, smoothing her blouse, pinching her cheeks. It had felt like hours before he reappeared. It was ridiculous, she knew. She, just a young, ordinary girl – a secretary; he a military man, a much older man. He must be, what, thirty, thirty-five, even. She only nineteen! And pretty much destitute, now that she and Rose were alone together in the world. Someone so smart and self-assured, so brave and handsome, would never be interested in her.
He reappeared, turned, and the brigadier general shook him by the hand, saying, ‘Best of luck with it all,’ pumping Edward’s hand so vigorously his moustache had wobbled. A Temporary Gentleman, Eleanor surmised. A man given a temporary commission to serve as an officer in the war, now released to return to his former profession. Back to what? she had wondered, unable to resist staring at him as he prepared to leave the room. Before replacing his cap, he turned and smiled. A warm, wonderful smile which lit up his face. Passing her desk, as he’d left, he slipped a folded note next to her typewriter, unnoticed by the brigadier general whose mind was undoubtedly on the hundreds more he had to decommission in the coming days.
I’ll be at the Café Bru, corner of Whitehall Place, at six this evening if you would care to join me for a cup of tea? Be reassured that my invitation is purely professional. Yours, Edward Hamilton, the note had read, which set Eleanor’s heart racing all over again.