Look, Stranger

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When Matthew Vereker arrives from the American Mid-West on a year's exchange as vicar of All Hallows on Helmsley Island, he thinks there are no people in England, but only 'members of classes dying behind their stockades'. He soon finds that the reality is more complicated. Helmsley Island, once known as Smugglers' Island, is cluttered with smart bungalows, decaying cottages, day trippers, squatters, archaeologists, agitators - and the ghosts of nuns who walk in the grounds of the old priory. Besides the normal if varied manifestations of Christianity there are the followers of the Ancient People, antedating Christianity, who dance in the nude at nights.

As summer moves into winter Vereker strives to cope with a variety of problems; his patchwork parish; his young daughter, Nan; Zoe and Tudor Lindsay, cousins and once lovers; Milo, the strange vital boy who looks for gods and finds one inside himself . . . There are some problems that arose before we came on the scene and will continue after we have left, but one problem perhaps Vereker can solve: his own. When the time approaches for him to return to America he knows that things will never be the same for him again.

About Mary Hocking

Born in in London in 1921, Mary was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Girls School, Acton. During the Second World War she served in the Women's Royal Naval Service (Wrens) attached to the Fleet Air Arm Meteorology branch and then briefly with the Signal Section in Plymouth.

Writing was in her blood. Juggling her work as a local government officer in Middlesex Education Department with writing, at first short stories for magazines and pieces for The Times Educational Supplement, she then had her first book, The Winter City, published in 1961.

The book was a success and enabled Mary to relinquish her full time occupation to devote her time to writing. Even so, when she came to her beloved Lewes in 1961, she still took a part-time appointment, as a secretary, with the East Sussex Educational Psychology department.

Long before family sagas had become cult viewing, she had embarked upon the 'Fairley Family' trilogy - Good Daughters, Indifferent Heroes, and Welcome Strangers - books which give her readers a faithful, realistic and uncompromising portrayal of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times, between the years of 1933 and 1946.

For many years she was an active member of the 'Monday Lit', a Lewes-based group which brought in current writers and poets to speak about their work. Equally, she was an enthusiastic supporter of Lewes Little Theatre, where she found her role as 'prompter' the most satisfying, and worshipped at the town's St Pancras RC Church.

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Books by Mary Hocking

Family Circle
Family Circle
Daniel Come to Judgement
Daniel Come to Judgement
The Bright Day
The Bright Day
The Mind Has Mountains
The Mind Has Mountains
He Who Plays the King
He Who Plays the King
March House
March House
An Irrelevant Woman
An Irrelevant Woman
A Particular Place
A Particular Place
Letters from Constance
Letters from Constance
The Very Dead of Winter
The Very Dead of Winter
The Meeting Place
The Meeting Place
Good Daughters
Good Daughters
Indifferent Heroes
Indifferent Heroes
Welcome Strangers
Welcome Strangers
Visitors to the Crescent
Visitors to the Crescent
The Sparrow
The Sparrow
The Young Spaniard
The Young Spaniard
Ask No Question
Ask No Question
A Time of War
A Time of War
The Winter City
The Winter City
Checkmate
Checkmate
The Hopeful Traveller
The Hopeful Traveller
The Climbing Frame
The Climbing Frame