Marian Sutro has survived Ravensbruck and is back in dreary 1950s London trying to pick up the pieces of her pre-war life. Returned to an England she barely knows and a post-war world she doesn't understand, Marian searches for something on which to ground the rest of her life. Family and friends surround her and a young RAF officer attempts to bring her the normalities of love and affection but she is haunted by her experiences and by the guilt of knowing that her contribution to the war effort helped lead to the development of the Atom Bomb. Where, in the complexities of peacetime, does her loyalty lie? When a mysterious Russian diplomat emerges from the shadows to draw her into the ambiguities and uncertainties of the Cold War she sees a way to make amends for the past and to renew the excitement of her double life. Simon Mawer's sense of time and place is perfect: Tightrope is a compelling novel about identity and deception which constantly surprises the reader.
Winner Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2016.
A compelling Cold War story -- Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler Mawer is a skilful writer and this is a sophisticated, deviously constructed story of a woman who finds her true self in the distorting mirrors of the intelligence game -- Nick Rennison Sunday Times Mawer's evocation of poor, battered post-war London, still a drab city of thick and clammy fogs, is beautifully done. Likewise he handles his plot, moving back and forward in time, in masterly fashion ... Mawer blows the dust off the history and makes it matter as you read. He is one of the most accomplished novelists today -- Allan Massie Scotsman Simon Mawer is a true master of literary espionage ... Tightrope is gripping stuff Mail on Sunday Dazzling Daily Express SUtro is a singular creation - a fascinating and compelling character and the account of how she becomes caught up in Cold War espionage is enthralling Sunday Mirror Mawer sensitively evokes the crushing normality of postwar Britain ... intriguing, often lyrical The Times Tightrope is the perfect title for this absorbing, flawlessly constructed and memorable novel Choice [Marian Sutro is a] completely compelling character. The period atmosphere is done with perfect pitch, and the narrative is as taut as the title Tablet Mawer's period detail is perfect, and his prose impeccable -- Ian Sansom Guardian The closest thing to a female James Bond in English literature Guardian
Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He has lived with his wife in Italy for more than 20 years, and he teaches at the English School in Rome.