The characters start to emerge with Jane acting as the go between link from the past to the future when Nicholas has died. She is the one phoning round trying to find everyone to tell them the news.
Back in 1945 Jane is resigned to the fact that Nicholas is more interested in her attractive friend Selina and she allows him to use her as a way back into the club. The girls are largely harmless struggling to find their way through post-war Britain without any money and without too much idea of what they want to do with their lives.
Now and again Spark fast forwards and gives you a life summary taking a character right through the next forty years as lightning speed. It works well and I almost wish someone could sit down next to me and summarise my next twenty years in a sentence – only of course if it turned out well!
Spark really manages to create a watertight description of a little community and you feel at the point when Nicholas is waiting in the hall for Selina that you are almost there with him taking in the sights and the mood of the period and that is a result of her writing.
Is there going to be a moment when Nicholas acts a catalyst to change the lives of the girls on the top floor or is Spark writing a straight memoir type story of the year 1945 and live for girls with slender means? Not yet clear but still enjoyable either way.