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An act of kindness has grave consequences in this heart-rending novel about a young girl, pregnant and abandoned, and the man who helps her. When decent, compassionate Carter takes pity on this young girl, he is quickly drawn into an ordeal beyond his control. Succumbing first to her desperate cries for help, and then to her threats, he agrees to let her spend the night in his flat. Aided only by his own unskilled hands, she gives birth to a sickly baby. For Carter, the anguish has only just begun, as he witnesses a traumatic chain of events unfold.
Nicholas Monsarrat was born in Liverpool and educated at Cambridge University, where he studied law. His career as a solicitor encountered a swift end when he decided to leave Liverpool for London, with a half-finished manuscript under his arm and only forty pounds in his pocket. His first book to attract attention was the largely autobiographical 'This is the Schoolroom', which was concerned with the turbulent thirties, and a student at Cambridge who goes off to fight against the fascists in Spain only to discover that life itself is the real schoolroom. During World War II he joined the Royal Navy and served in corvettes. His war experiences provided the framework for the novel 'HMS Marlborough will enter Harbour', which is one of his best known books, along with 'The Cruel Sea'. The latter was made into a classic film starring Jack Hawkins. Established as a top name writer, Monsarrat's career concluded with 'The Master Mariner', a historical novel of epic proportions the final part of which was both finished (using his notes) and published posthumously. Well known for his concise story telling and tense narrative on a wide range of subjects, although nonetheless famous for those connected with the sea and war, he became one of the most successful novelists of the twentieth century, whose rich and varied collection bears the hallmarks of a truly gifted writer. The Daily Telegraph summed him up thus: 'A professional who gives us our money's worth. The entertainment value is high'.