It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Gilbert Joseph was one of thousands of Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian, he finds himself treated very differently. He and his wife Hortense have come in hopes of a new and better life. But London, shabby and decrepit, is far from the golden city of their dreams. In desperation, Gilbert calls on a wartime friend for help. And Queenie Bligh, against her better judgment, takes them in. Her neighbours do not approve of her lodgers. But Queenie doesn't know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do?In this delicately wrought and profoundly moving novel, Andrea Levy handles the weighty themes of empire, prejudice, war and love, with a superb lightness of touch and generosity of spirit.Winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction.