London, 1940. As bombs fall onto the blacked-out city, ambulance driver Elinor Brooke, working alongside former friend Kit Neville, races from bomb sites to hospitals, while her husband Paul Tarrant works as an air raid warden. Once fellow students at the Slade School of Fine Art before the First World War, the three now find themselves caught in another war—this time at home.
As the bombing intensifies, into their midst comes the spirit medium Bertha Mason, grotesque and unforgettable, whose ability to make contact with the deceased finds vastly increased demands as death rains down from the skies. Old loves and obsessions resurface until Elinor is brought face to face with an almost impossible choice. Concluding the story begun in Life Class and continued in Toby’s Room, Noonday is both a gripping standalone novel and the culmination of an extraordinary trilogy.
A masterfully written World War I-era novel about the secrets between a brother and sister, from the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration Trilogy.
It is 1917, and Elinor Brooke, a young painter, is studying art in London while her beloved brother Toby serves on the front as a medical officer. When Toby goes missing and is presumed dead, the devastated Elinor refuses to accept it. Then she finds a letter hidden among his belongings; it reveals that Toby knew he wasn’t coming back and implies that his friend, medic Kit Neville, knows why. But Kit has been horribly disfigured and is reeling from shell shock. While Elinor tries to piece together the mystery of what happened to her brother, she uses her drawing skills to aid in the surgical reconstruction of those who have suffered unspeakable losses—of their faces, their memories, their very minds.
In the spring of 1914, a group of students at the Slade School of Art have gathered for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant is easily distracted by an intriguing fellow student, Elinor Brooke, but watches from afar when a well-known painter catches her eye. After World War I begins, Paul tends to the dying soldiers from the front line as a Belgian Red Cross volunteer, but the longer he remains, the greater the distance between him and home becomes. By the time he returns, Paul must confront not only the overwhelming, perhaps impossible challenge of how to express all that he has seen and experienced, but also the fact that life, and love, will never be the same for him again.