published in 1993,
Winner of the MacKitterick Prize
It is May 1917, and the war in France is going badly. The young men of St Ives and Zennor in Cornwall are being conscripted. The atmosphere is tense with suspicion and fear, as German U boats hunt British convoys along the coastline in a highly successful assault on incoming food supplies.
D H Lawrence and his German-born wife Frieda are living in Zennor, believing that they have escaped from the rumour-mongering wartime atmosphere of London. Lawrence dreams of a quiet life close to the land, building up the beginnings of his ideal community, Rananim. Meanwhile he campaigns openly for peace, and is rapidly becoming the object of mistrust and hostility in the neighbourhood. A block of salt might be a secret camera, or a Hebridean lullaby a German code.
Clare Coyne is attracted to the Lawrences, excited by their friendship and eager to learn about their world of ideas. The Lawrences views on art and sexuality change Clare’s life. She is deeply in love with her cousin, John William, but the social upheaval of war has changed her life, making her ambitious for a life beyond the domestic. She still keeps house for her father, but both father and daughter lead secret lives.
As the war news worsens, the web of suspicion that is tightening around the Lawrences threatens to trap Clare, too. Do the Lawrences have their own secrets - are they really traitors and enemies who must be thrown out of Cornwall?