_The Play Room_ takes place in the 1960s, in a small British seaside town, where teenage Laura longs to grow up and move to London someday. She also longs to be friends with beautiful Vicky Logan, whom Laura worships. But just when something happens to pull Laura and Vicky together and it seems Laura's dreams might come true, Vicky is drawn into an affair with a rough factory worker.
I read this on the strength of Manning's excellent _Balkan Trilogy_ and _Levant Trilogy_, and I was rather disappointed. I occasionally felt some sympathy for Laura, whose life is constricted by her looks, her small town, and her unsympathetic mother, but none of the other characters came alive for me. Perhaps the book's short length (under 200 pages) contributed to this feeling; the characters and situations generally felt underdeveloped.