From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending, an achingly profound love story between a young man on the cusp of adulthood and a woman whose life is gradually and suddenly moving in the opposite direction.
Most of us have only one story to tell. I don't mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives: there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there's only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.
When nineteen-year-old Paul comes home from university for the summer, the last person he expects to meet in his London suburb is Mrs. Susan Macleod: she's twice his age, and the married mother of two nearly grown-up daughters. Yet Susan turns out to be a fine tennis partner, a warm companion, and, eventually, a tender, affectionate lover. Their bond is immediate, and they soon find themselves clinging to each other as though their lives depend on it--and they very well might. They take a house in London to escape his parents and the abusive Mr. Macleod, but as the years pass their troubles start piling up, with Susan succumbing to depression and worse, Paul struggling all the while to understand what it means to truly love someone. Now, decades later, after Susan's death, he commits to reconstructing the story of their love affair--the only story "worth telling." It is a piercing account of helpless devotion, and of how memory can confound, fail, and surprise us, sometimes all at once.