The Solitary Child is a story of violent death and suspicion. Harriet becomes engaged to James Random, a gentleman farmer, monied but unpretentious. But his first wife, Eva, had died in what were called 'unforgettable circumstances'; James was charged with murdering her and was acquitted. Breaking the news to her mother of her engagement was Harriet's first ordeal: facing Maggie, the solitary child who was James' and Eva's daughter was more complex. Suspicions are not always cleared away by a verdict of 'not guilty'. Here the suspicion which Harriet found surrounding her new home was so oppressive it distorted the relationships of the people involved into a nightmare climax.
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Nina Bawden was one of Britain's most distinguished and best-loved novelists for both adults and young people. Several of her novels for children - Carrie's War, a Phoenix Award winner in 1993; The Peppermint Pig, which won the Guardian Fiction Award; The Runaway Summer; and Keeping Henry - have become contemporary classics.
She wrote over forty novels, slightly more than half of which are for adults, an autobiography and a memoir describing her experiences during and following the Potters Bar rail crash in May 2002, which killed her husband, Austen Kark, and from which she emerged seriously injured - but fighting. She was shortlisted for the 1987 Man Booker Prize for Circles of Deceit and several of her books, like Family Money (1991), have been adapted for film or television. Many of her works have been translated into numerous languages.
Born in London in 1925, Nina studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University in the same year as Margaret Thatcher. Following Potter's Bar, she was movingly portrayed as a character in the David Hare play, The Permanent Way, about the privatization of the British railways. She received the prestigious S T Dupont Golden Pen Award for a lifetime's contribution to literature in 2004, and in 2010 The Birds on the Trees was shortlisted for the Lost Booker of 1970.
Bawden passed away on Wednesday 22 August 2012, at her home in North London with her family around her.
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