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Inspired by the true story of Melita Norwood, an eighty-seven-year old woman who was unmasked as the KGB's longest serving British spy in 1999, Red Joan is a well-researched and briskly paced historical novel that questions the black-and-white morality of wartime society. Brilliantly structured and psychologically acute, this compelling novel provides no easy answers, instead offering a kaleidoscope of conflicting choices and questionable motives. And once the authorities close in, is there ever such a thing as atonement and forgiveness?
small house in Sidcup, twenty minutes’ drive from Nick and Briony’s flat in Blackheath, lulled by how easy it had all seemed during that initial visit. Briony was pregnant by then, and Nick seemed delighted to have her nearby to ask advice on high chairs and prams and breast-feeding, forgetting that this was not something she would have known much about. It was a wonderful time, but at the same time, it was careless. She should have known. She cannot allow Nick to stand up for her like this.
better than nothing. At least it means he is thinking of her. But now he is back, and she can relax because the first thing he does after dropping off his bag is to climb through the window of the linen cupboard at Newnham College and stride along the corridor to her room as if he has absolute permission to be there. Which he doesn’t. If they were to be discovered like this, lying together in Joan’s narrow bed, the consequences would be disastrous. She knows the rules. If a man must come into
stopped, deciding against whatever it was she was about to say. ‘Anyway, so it’s just you and Max going on this trip?’ ‘Uh-huh.’ Sonya smiled, a slow, spreading smile. ‘What’s so funny?’ ‘Well, you know how you could really annoy Leo . . . ’ she said, nodding at Joan in that knowing and mildly patronising manner that Joan remembered from those late-night meetings at university, ‘ . . . if you wanted to.’ ‘I don’t want to.’ Sonya took out her lipstick and brushed it lightly across the plump
her that she hasn’t touched either of the books she brought with her, intrigued at first, then exasperated when she finds out that they have been doing crosswords instead. After dinner on the last evening, the music is halted for the announcement that land has been sighted. There is applause from some of the tables and a fresh burst of music, but Max frowns and bends forward, studying the swirl of coffee in the bottom of his cup. ‘That’s a shame,’ he murmurs, still not looking up. ‘I was
‘I’m in St. Albans. I . . . I need to see you.’ ‘Oh?’ Sonya’s voice is soft, musical, as though she is smiling. ‘Is it urgent?’ Joan pauses. It is not too late. She could still change her mind. ‘Yes, it is rather. I have something for you.’ ‘I wondered if you would,’ Sonya says, not asking what it is but receiving the instructions calmly, as if she has been expecting a call like this. ‘Right. I’ll borrow Jamie’s motor. If I leave now, I can be there by late afternoon.’ A deep breath. In and