Letters from Constance

Mary Hocking

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In 1939, as they leave school, Constance and Sheila vow to keep in touch. Posted to Ireland in the WRNS, Constance marries Fergus, a gregarious Irishman. Before long, stifled by domesticity and motherhood, she envies Sheila, writing poetry and married to the fiercely creative Miles. Gradually, however, a different reality emerges, for Constance has unacknowledged talents of her own, while Sheila's public success is bought at great personal cost. From the war to the 1980s, Constance writes to Sheila of her everyday hopes and sorrows, and through her we learn much of Sheila's gallantry and courage. We learn, too, of the social and political developments that challenge and shape her values, until finally outside events come too close and the fragile balance of Constance's own world is threatened.

This is an unforgettable portrait of a friendship, and much more. While Letters from Constance explores personal experiences with humour, tenderness and acuity, it is an equally fascinating microcosm of the years it surveys.

In the media
Beautifully done . . . a genuine pleasure to read

Anita Brookner

I don't know which I liked better, the letters from Constance - so warm and witty - or Constance herself. Mary Hocking has suddenly shown a new strength in this wonderfully touching novel

Margaret Forster