One ordinary afternoon, Anna Clive finds her apparently neatly-ordered life unravelling when she answers the phone to an acquaintance, Ossie, who tells her that his lover has died – before begging for her help. What follows is an extraordinary glimpse into the private hopes and fears of a group of characters bound inextricably to one another by their humanity, their secrets – and their love.
Beautifully written and deeply moving, Secret Lives is a classic novella by the celebrated author and critic Francis King that examines why we must sometimes tell lies to lead the lives we desire, and what happens when those lies come, inevitably, to light.
Born in Switzerland, Francis King spent his childhood in India, where his father was a government official. While still an undergraduate at Oxford he published his first three novels. He then joined the British Council, working in Italy, Greece, Egypt, Finland and Japan, before he resigned to devote himself entirely to writing. For some years he was drama critic for the Sunday Telegraph and he reviewed fiction regularly for the Spectator. He won the Somerset Maugham Prize, the Katherine Mansfield Prize and the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year Award for Act of Darkness (1983). His penultimate book, The Nick of Time, was long-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize. Francis King died in 2011.
"One of our great writers, of the calibre of Graham Greene and Nabokov." Beryl Bainbridge