Taking refuge in the attic room they have always shared, Isabel and Rocco spend their days eavesdropping on their parents’ turbulent relationship, dissecting the intricacies of London life and discovering for themselves the ‘first times’ which will gradually pull them away from the simplicity of childhood.

But when their parents suddenly and inexplicably abandon them, Isabel and Rocco find themselves alone. And free from the rules and restrictions of the adult world. As the house around them slowly begins to disintegrate, so too do the lines between adolescence and experience, and brother and sister retreat further and further from the threatening outside world. But when crisis looms, their ever-growing dependency on each other is put to the ultimate test.

“My brother Rocco doesn’t understand what I mean when I say that pleasure is polluted after the first time.I realize it can get more intense, but it doesn’t get any better…”


“Anna Stothard’s pre-university debut is dazzling … surly and oversexed, vulnerable and murderous … it is remarkably accomplished” Geraldine Bedell, The Observer Review

“Stothard’s claustrophobic and compelling atmosphere of sadistic sexual fizz between her two main characters keeps the reader gripped” The Times

“She beats the young Francoise Sagan to pulp. She takes the everyday and turns it into something urgent, wondrous and alarmingly erotic. Is Camden Town really like this? Yes. See how she breathes new life into old literature.” Fay Weldon

“Hypnotic, transgressive and enclosed … the quality of the writing is remarkable. Stothard gives Isabel a feverish lucidity which makes her see the truth but balk at knowing it.” Helen Dunmore

“Sinister debut from an author who shows serious promise. The plot has echoes of Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden – two children mysteriously left alone by their parents.” Jo Craven, Vogue

“Very impressive” Paperback Preview, The Bookseller

“Rainy streets, kindly but inept teachers, rotting food and the highly seductive, just-surfacing, notions of forbidden sex – Stothard describes them all brilliantly” Carolyn Hart, Juice Magazine

“A dark tale of enfants terribles set in North London, Isabel and Rocco revolves around a brother and sister with an unhealthily obsessive relationship” Marianne Brace, Harpers & Queen

“With shades of Lord of the Flies, Stothard has produced a chilling and haunting work” Annabel Venning,Daily Mail