Public LivesPublic Lives


Karen North, a young student, makes herself indispensable to Tom Martin and his infatuated 11-year-old daughter Sarah. Karen’s abrupt departure for New York forms the prelude to a scandal. Years later when the two women meet, Sarah is given the opportunity to betray, as she herself was betrayed.


‘ A lovely novel……………remarkably sophisticated for a first.’
– Margaret Forster

‘ Exceptional……….The language is stunning; controlled, yet very powerful and evocative, and the tale is told with incredible subtlety,’
– Helena Kennedy

‘ There can be few people better placed than Melissa Benn to write about growing up in a left wing household; and she does so with quiet confidence in her first novel…………The focus is on the complexity of relationships and on the contradictory motives that prompt its characters. Benn writes of these with steady perception.’
– New Statesman

‘A sensitive, heartfelt novel which reas as though it were indeed autobiographical – in itself a comment on the author’s artistry.’
– The Sunday Telegraph