The Time in Aderra

Ann Schlee

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31 July 2014
228 pages

Untouched by the ravages of war and the politically volatile atmosphere, the Villa della Pace remains an island of European society in the tiny British Protectorate of Aderra. Its circle religiously maintain their rigid social calendar and allow nothing, save the death of King George VI, to interfere with their pleasures. But the flawless surface of their lives conceals a turmoil of deception and desire . . .

Flo has just left school in England and is flying out to spend the summer with her mother Lydia, and step-father Harry, who, as head of the British Administration, must oversee the forthcoming handover to indigenous rule. Lydia is determined that this year Flo will have the summer of her life, just as she herself did years earlier in Nairobi. And believing she can relive her youth through unworldly Flo, Lydia devises a plan for her daughter's social debut - even providing a man. But she little suspects the intensity of emotion behind Flo's quiet façade, nor the irrevocable impact her presence will have on the whole community over those few stifling months . . .

A powerful and beautifully written novel by Ann Schlee at her very best.