Clare Chambers should be much better known as an author of witty, yet melancholy romantic comedies which explore the whirligigs of fate and families. This is one of her best, describing in retrospect the madly eccentric life of the Fairchilds. Esther and her brother Christian grow up in the kind of Seventies household that will be familiar to many - chaotic, idealistic and furnished with objects rejected from charity donations. Esther and her brother are just as weirdly dressed, but they struggle into normality, Christian by means of a scholarship to a good school, Esther through his girlfriend Penny. Donovan, deposited by his unreliable mother, seems the worst of their feckless guests (their father is a prison chaplain)at the large shabby house, but becomes its saviour - until the violent act that renders Christian a paraplegic and Esther a retiring prisoner of routine. This outline of the plot doesn't begin to convey the buoyancy and sympathy with which the story is narrated. Esther is one of those dreamy, good-hearted and surprisingly shrewd heroines you fall in love with, and her eventual discovery of happiness and independence comes by the skin of her teeth. Utterly charming and highly recommended.