'If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don't know how to explain.' In the early seventies, a glamorous and androgynous couple known as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas, they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But their mesmerising flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories. For Adele, who also has something to conceal, Evie becomes an obsession - an obsession which becomes lifelong after the night of Adele's twentieth birthday party. What happened that evening and who was complicit are questions that have haunted Adele ever since. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for the past forty years.
From summers in 1970s Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after she has disappeared, Evie will go on challenging everyone's ideas of how their lives should turn out. With her hallmark humour, intelligence and boldness Linda Grant has written a powerful and captivating novel about secrets and the moments that shape our lives.
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Haunting ... compelling right to the very last page List A hint of Brideshead ... beautiful writing ... [Grant] has a real knack for observation Evening Standard [An] excellent novel ... Straight-talking but far from straightforward in its observations, Upstairs at the Party's portrait of an era is convincing, its subtle cynicism regarding the pitfalls of freedom something to mull over Daily Telegraph An enthralling coming-of-age story Good Housekeeping A stylish, ambitious novel Glamour Brilliantly observed ... determinedly unsettling Daily Mail Fascinating -- John Sutherland The Times One of our best modern authors, a Liverpudlian with a huge imagination. I've never been able to stop reading any of her work once I've started -- Peter Hitchens Mail on Sunday Grant is so accomplished a novelist of recent social history ... tender and touching -- Suzy Feay Literary Review Upstairs at the Party feels like a darker, more cynical version of Kate Atkinson's Emotionally Weird ... a very good book: it creates a sense of yearning through a cloud of scepticism Observer I read this deeply felt, deeply moving, novel twice. It's very good -- John Sutherland The Times A wonderfully and perceptively written story, which rings utterly true, and as a consequence lifts the spirits Guardian Grant always writes with incisive elegance and here paints a compelling picture of 1970s England ... a stunner -- Ian Rankin Guardian Her eye for social history is as sharp as ever -- Suzy Feay Tablet It's Grant's heartfelt emotional complexity that you'll remember long past the last page Stylist There's a thoughtful pessimism about this novel that makes it the finest of elegies for the dreams of 50 years ago -- John Sutherland The Times Praise for We Had it So Good 'Compelling, perceptive and deeply humane' - Michael Arditti, Daily Mail 'Gripping and stylishly told. Post-war California, Oxford and London are recreated superbly and brightly ... Grant comes close to creating the perfect novel' - Melissa Katsoulis, The Times 'My only complaint? I fear I may not read a better book all year' - Rosamund Urwin, Evening Standard 'Ambitious ... Like the best novels, it makes you examine your own moral compass alongside that of its characters' -- Viv Groskop Observer
Linda Grant is a novelist and journalist. She won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and the Lettre Ulysses Prize for Literary Reportage in 2006, and was longlisted for the Man Booker in 2002 for Still Here. The Clothes on Their Backs was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2008 and went on to win the South Bank Show Award.