THE BOOK was on the table in front of us, along with the teapot, the two cups, and a plate of mince pies. It was
a book and not the manuscript I expected and, if I’m honest, feared.
“Privately printed, as you see,” Toby Greenwell said.
“Your father had that done himself?”
He picked it up and handed it to me. Like many such books, it had no jacket but a shiny cover with a picture of a young girl with pigtails and wearing a gymslip. She was standing in a green meadow and the title of the novel had been amateurishly done in black letters by someone...
WHILE TEACHING at a university in West London, I had been working for a PhD on a subject with which no one among my family and friends seemed to have any connection: single parents or, in the phrase Toby Greenwell had used, unmarried mothers. As my supervisor remarked after I chose the subject (and she reluctantly approved), it would be a bit absurd in a climate where nearly half of women remain unwed. So “Single Parents.” Such women in English literature was the idea, but I was still asking myself—and Carla, my supervisor—if this should be extended into life. Into reality. Would this make it too much like a...