Kaite Welsh

The Half-Life of Deceit

Red Joan


Chatto & Windus 392pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Loosely inspired by the case of Melita Norwood, the KGB’s longest-serving British spy, who was outed aged 87 in 1999, Jennie Rooney’s third novel is a meditation on the secrets we keep for – and from – the people we love. Joan’s mother, a nurse in the First World War, is fond of describing her youth as an ‘unprecedented time’, and it is this phrase that resonates with Joan as she escapes a life of suburban domesticity for Cambridge and a scientific career. A combination of youthful idealism and an encounter with the bohemian Sonya pulls her into the circle of a group of student communists, and it is there that she encounters Sonya’s cousin Leo, whose attraction will come to define her adult life. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,