BRIGHTON, 18 MARCH 1943
Alice woke with a start, seagulls screeching from the gabled rooftop. The dawn-glow bled through uneven curtains, illuminating the white wicker crib that stood only a few feet away. She was curled on her side at the very edge of the bed, eye-level with the crib, which sat beside the splintered paintwork of the windowsill.
Her lips curved into a smile. She needed to nurse Eadie now, just as the midwife had shown her the day after the birth. Alice tried to ease herself up onto one elbow, but her limbs were so weak with tiredness that her arm wouldn’t support her, and she collapsed back onto the pillow. Everything was so tranquil; Eadie must still be sleeping—this most precious time preserved—and all Alice could hear was her own breathing. It was clear that no one else in the guest- house was awake.