The Clothes on Their Backs
By Linda Grant
Orange Prize Winner and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008, Llinda Grant has created an enchanting portrait of a woman who, having endured unbearable loss, finds solace in the family secrets her estranged uncle reveals.
Vivien Kovacs, sensitive and bookish, grows up sealed off from the world by her timid Hungarian refugee parents. She loses herself in books and reinvents herself according to her favourite characters, but it is through clothes that she ultimately defines herself.
Against her father’s wishes, she forges a relationship with her estranged uncle, a notorious criminal, who, in his old age, wants to share his life story. As he reveals the truth about her family’s past, Vivien, having endured unbearable loss, learns how to be comfortable in her own skin and how to be alive in the world.
Linda Grant is a spectacularly humanising writer whose morally complex characters explore the line between selfishness and self-preservation. In vivid and supple prose, Grant has created a powerful story of family, love, and the hold the past has on the present.