What do Mrs H., Rachel, Edwina, Ida, Sarah, Dot, Chrissie have in common? They're all women, but they're fat, thin, old, young, professional, incompetent - and appear as diverse as human nature can be. But they are all survivors. This compelling novel follows the ripples that go out into ordinary lives, women's lives in particular, which have been scarred and changed by a shared experience, all connected by the same hospital clinic in a small Northern town. This is a novel about what it means to live in the shadow of disease and with its scars, whether mental and physical, looking back over one's shoulder while trying to go forward. You can trip up or, if you're careful, you might make it...At its heart is a strong, difficult but finally vulnerable, old woman. Mrs H. is generous and helpful to a (sometimes comical) fault, and lives alone with a secret that she tells no one but that finally explains everything..Her niece is a young doctor who can't take the strain, and who wants something different from life.
Alongside them are the other walking wounded, getting on with their lives: Ida, once beautiful and now hiding her scars under layers of fat; tiny Dot who is stronger than she seems; Edwina, a mother who lives vicariously through others, even her wild daughter; Rachel, who finds almost too late what it's like to soar above the crowd; and not to mention the men in their lives. From the marvellous ambivalence of the title question, it leaves us with a whole lot more to consider about life and its infinite variety.
Born in Carlisle, she is the author of successful novels, including The Memory Box, Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid and Diary of an Ordinary Woman, as well as bestselling memoirs (Hidden Lives and Precious Lives) and biographies. She lives in North London and the Lake District.