When Marion's mother is silenced, first by a stroke, and then by death, she is left confronting the chaotic detritus of a life obsessively devoted to art. she has left it too late to ask the crucial questions about scenes confusedly remembered from her childhood, and above all about the identity of her own father, 'lost in the war'. Out of the hundreds of paintings in her mother's studio, one, a portrait of a young man, is inscribed 'For Marion'. Is this her father? And who was he?
Marion's search takes her to the Cornish town of St Ives. In the remote and closeknit town where communities of fisherfolk and artists have coexisted for many years, she learns of a tragedy which is intrinsically tied up with her father's life. Over fifty years before, the St Ives lifeboat went down with all hands bar one. Marion must delve deep into the past to discover the identity of a man she never knew,a nd in so doing confront the demons which have tortured her own adult life.
The Serpentine Cave is an imagined story containing a true one - a powerful novel about memory and loss, birth and rebirth, and past regrets which still have the power to plague the present.
Jill Paton Walsh was educated at St Michael's Convent, North Finchley, and at St Anne's College, Oxford. She is the author of several highly praised adult novels: Lapsing, A School For Lovers, Knowledge of Angels, which was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize, Goldengrove Unleaving, The Serpentine Cave and A Desert in Bohemia. She has also won many awards for her children's literature, including the Whitbread Prize, the Universe Prize and the Smarties Award. She has three children and lives in Cambridge.