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'My old lady turned out to be an absolute fright. Serves me right, I suppose. She wears bold theatrical make-up on a shrivelled face; bright scarlet lipstick which bleeds into the deep folds of her crinkled lips and orangey pink powder which wobbles on the hairs of her chin... She wouldn't let me in at first.' Alicia Queripel, a retired actress, lives alone with her memories in Shepard's Bush. Until the day Alison Woodgate appears on her doorstep to visit the old lady she has been 'allocated' by Age Concern. Alicia, suspicious, is at first reluctant to be patronized by a mousy do-gooder. They seem to enjoy little in common. How could Alison's boyfriend Rob compare with Alicia's dear departed Leonard, a paragon among men? As the weeks pass, however, an unlikely friendship develops over tea and cakes and slowly, through the mingled layers of memory and imagination, an unsuspected pattern starts to emerge. By the author of Playing Fields in Winter, winner of the Author's Club First Novel Award.