A subtle and moving account of a young English undergraduate from the provinces, this portrait of Oxford during the war is now regarded by many critics as a classic of its kind.

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Michaelmas term, 1940. 18-year-old John Kemp has come down from Lancashire to Oxford University to begin his scholarship studying English. But when he invents an imaginary sister to win the attention of a rich but unreliable ‘friend’, and then falls in love for real, undergraduate life becomes its own strange world .

‘Absolutely contemporary – perhaps even prophetic.’ Joyce Carol Oates
‘Remarkable . A book about innocence.’ Simon Garfield
‘A cryptic literary manifesto [about] discovering a literary personality, and the consolation art can provide.’ Andrew Motion