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'Extraordinarily evocative... A fantastic book.' - Simon Mayo Radio 2 Book ClubLondon, May 1945. Freya Wyley, twenty, meets Nancy Holdaway, eighteen, amid the wild celebrations of VE Day, the prelude to a devoted and competitive friendship that will endure on and off for the next two decades.
Freya, wilful, ambitious, outspoken, pursues a career in newspapers which the chauvinism of Fleet Street and her own impatience conspire to thwart, while Nancy, gentler, less self-confident, struggles to get her first novel published. Both friends become entangled at university with Robert Cosway, a charismatic young man whose own ambition will have a momentous bearing on their lives. Flitting from war-haunted Oxford to the bright new shallows of the 1960s, Freya plots the unpredictable course of a woman's life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists.
Beneath the relentless thrum of changing times and a city being reshaped, we glimpse the eternal: the battles fought by women in pursuit of independence, the intimate mysteries of the human heart, and the search for love. Stretching from the Nuremberg war trials to the advent of the TV celebrity, from innocence abroad to bitter experience at home, Freya presents the portrait of an extraordinary woman taking arms against a sea of political and personal tumult.
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"A wonderful tale of female friendship... Elegant and compelling, it’s a riveting study of a changing world and the struggle of two women to find their place in it." (Eithne Farry Mail on Sunday)
"Quinn explores the big issues of the century – feminism, homosexuality, immigration, the individual versus society – but does so with a deceptively light touch. He draws us into the consciousness of his protagonists in an utterly compelling way... Quinn’s characters...will continue to live on long after reaching the final line of this wonderful novel." (Andrew Wilson Independent on Sunday)
"There’s plenty more to tantalise us as we move from the austere 1940s to the tumultuous 1960s... [Quinn] Has evidently gorged on recent histories of the period... Quinn’s skill lies in picking a surprising route through familiar terrain, blurring the boundaries of fact and fiction in a style that calls to mind William Boyd. Besides being adept at marshalling period detail, he is a fluent, engaging storyteller, whose suave prose masks an unusually shrewd sense of how relationships work." (Henry Hitchings Financial Times)
"There aren’t many novelists with smoother, more elegant prose styles than Anthony Quinn. His sentences practically purr on the page... Immensely enjoyable... Effortlessly entertaining and gracefully thought-provoking." (James Kidd Independent)
"I can’t remember the last time I devoured a book with such greed. Quinn’s eponymous, sweary heroine trailblazes her way through Oxford, Nuremberg, Soho and all points between." (Sara Manning Red)
Anthony Quinn was born in Liverpool in 1964. From 1998 to 2013 he was the film critic for the Independent. He is the author of six novels: The Rescue Man, which won the 2009 Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award; Half of the Human Race; The Streets, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Walter Scott Prize; Curtain Call, which was chosen for Waterstones and Mail on Sunday Book Clubs; Freya, a Radio 2 Book Club choice, and Eureka.
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