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February 12, 2016



published 16th June 2016




A double life is no life at all.

1953. Since the disappearance of her husband two years ago, Laura has been living in limbo with her daughter in Geneva. Nobody guesses the truth about her.

When Laura arrives in London in 1939, she finds herself drawn into two worlds. A young communist, Florence awakens in her desire for a new kind of society, while her well-connected family expects to play her part in their conventional circle. Then she meets Edward Last, a man who seems to understand both worlds, but who is hiding a secret bigger than she could ever imagine.

Gradually she learns what is at stake for herself, her husband, and her daughter, gradually she realises the dark consequences of her youthful idealism.


I did not know that the first novel by Natasha Walter, author of seminal non-fiction The New Feminism and Living Dolls.
A quite life is Natasha Walter’s first novel that is a beautiful work of fiction.
The story is about Laura Leverett  Since the disappearance of her husband in 1951, Laura has been living in limbo with her daughter in Geneva. People see her as a very charming young lady, but nobody guesses that secret she is carrying. Laura is a wife, Mother and spy.
The end of the day is the moment she longs for. When she can stop acting her part. When she can sit out on this iron balcony, looking out over the lake as it turns from the lucent blue summer to the blank of complete darkness.
I find it fascinating to read what inspires an author to write their novel. Natasha Walter was inspired by some aspects to write this novel by the life of Melinda Marling, the wife of Donald Maclean. As such it stands on the shoulders of a number of books about the Cambridge spies and occasionally borrows directly from the historical record, particularly around Donald’s defection in 1951, when he left the family house  with his friend and fellow spy leaving behind his pregnant wife, Melinda.
As I enjoyed reading this fiction book so very much, I do hope that the next book Natasha Walter’s writes is a work fiction.




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