Vivid, bawdy and bitter. Barker's talent for gently sifting through the hidden depths of the human psyche is awesome' - The Times Pat Barker's first novel shows the women of Union Street, young and old, meeting the harsh challeges of poverty and survival in a precarious world. There's Kelly, at eleven, neglected and independent, dealing with a squalid rape; Dinah, knocking on sixty and still on the game; Joanne, not yet twenty, not yet married, and already pregnant. Old Alice is welcoming her impending death whilst Muriel helplessly watches the decline of her stoical husband. And linking them all, watching over them all, mother to half the street, is fiery, indomitable Iris.