The magnetism of a colourful bohemian family bewitches a lonely girl. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Britain’s sweeping cultural changes are mirrored in the exploits of the Felixes, their loves and their friendships.
Motherless Kate Stephens is temporarily dumped by her father on the easy-going, unconventional family of his old friend, Jerome Felix. Her stay becomes permanent, as she falls in love with her adopted family and their home, Plas Felix, a large and comfortable house on the North Wales coast. Over the years, Kate feels she owes everything to her association with the fascinating Felixes.
Her obsession is gradually tempered by the painful realisation that the creatures she finds so splendid are merely human beings, their glamour hiding dangerous weaknesses. This is sharpened by a tragedy which the family must absorb to survive, and Kate discovers the power of her independence brings its own consequences.
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Praise for CLAUDIA AND AMY:
‘This is a book you won’t put down. I loved it’
‘An appealing story about two radically different women’
‘Brilliantly drawn characters’
‘Vivid, utterly absorbing – a beautiful and extraordinary book’
Kate Stephenson is fourteen when her mother dies. Bereaved and lonely, she is thrust from the grim 1950s austerity of her London home into the bohemian anarchy of the Felixes, friends of her absent father. Determined to grieve and suffer, she is slowly beguiled by their easy-going, unconventional household over the course of a magical summer in their rambling house on the North Wales coast. To the rhythm of the waves beating on the shore and the sharp scent of the sea, Kate falls in love with her adopted family.
Blossoming from a shy girl into a keen woman of intelligence and acute sensitivity, Kate feels she owes everything to the fascinating Felixes: jovial academic Jerome, his beautiful Swiss wife, their sophisticated older children and the ebullient girl and boy close to her own age. It is they who have encouraged her to travel, to explore her gift of languages, to have the courage of her convictions. And yet, as Kate matures, her obsession is gradually tempered by the realization that the creatures she at first found dazzingly splendid are merely human beings, their glamour hiding dangerous weaknesses.
As the 1950s give way to the sweeping cultural changes of the 60s and 70s, Kate must grow strong and independent, confronting the realities of passion, children and long-deferred hopes of fulfillment. And it is this strength that draws her ever closer to the heart of the Felixes, at the time of their greatest tragedy. At once a testimony of profound friendship and love and an evocation of Britain's recent history, 'The House Above the Sea' is a novel of great warmth, perception and mesmerising power.
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