'In laters years, Alice heard people talk as if those who grew up during the period between the two wars had lived their youth beneath the shadow of the swastika. But it had not seemed like that at the time.' Mary Hocking brings good humour and sympathy to her depiction of the Fairley sisters growing up in their close-knit West London neighbourhood before, during and after the war. Here, in the first novel of a trilogy, the girls are sheltered in a world whose traditions of hard work and frugality are upheld in their Methodist father, Stanley, and their strong quiet mother, Judith. But as love comes to Louise and adventures tempt Alice and her friend, unease lurks and terrible rumours travel from Germany - auguries of the catastrophe to come.