It's 1946, and seventeen-year-old Laura Trelling is stagnating in her dilapidated Sussex family home, while her quietly eccentric parents slip further into isolation.
Then she meets Paul Lovell - a chance encounter that will change the course of her destiny, and bring her a new life in pre-apartheid South Africa.
Three years earlier, and many miles north, sixteen-year-old Gay Gibson is no less desperate to escape England. Gay's heart is set on stardom - but first she must find a way out of Birkenhead and the dreary prospect of secretarial college.
When their paths cross in Johannesburg, Laura is exposed to Gay's wild life of parties and liaisons. Thrown together, each with her own agenda, the girls find their lives inextricably entangled, with fatal consequences ...
A highly accomplished, startling debut, The Finest Type of English Womanhood is a chilling portrait of racial tension, social immorality, betrayal and love, and an assured and atmospheric examination of the end of innocence.