Overview / Summary
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 Written by Michael Frayn

The novel is set in World War 2 Britain and in the present day.

The narrator (Stephen) begins in the present and then looks back at the past, remembering his own childhood.

Stephen returns as an older man, 50 years later, to the scene of his childhood as he attempts to unpick the events of one period of his life.

He explores what happened and looks back with both nostalgia and sadness at what occurred.

There is a sense of class structure in the novel, with Keith’s family higher than Stephen’s and the Berrill family lower still.

There is mystery and naivety as events are seen through the eyes of a child.


  • Set in World War Two.
  • Mystery surrounds what Mrs Hayward is doing.
  • There is considerable conflict in the novel.
  • Class structure is significant.
  • There is an awakening from childhood to adolescence for Stephen.
  • The narrative structure sees an adult looking back on his childhood and can be unreliable.

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