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A Lesser Evil by Lesley Pearse

A Lesser Evil

Lesley Pearse

Romantic Fiction   Family Drama   Historical Fiction   
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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

London gangland terror of the 60s opens the eyes of a middle-class miss who learns some hard lessons. It’s slow to start but once Dan and Fifi get to Kennington the story really heats up and becomes utterly gripping.

Comparison: Martina Cole, Kevin Lewis, Hilary Norman.

Similar this month: Sheila Quigley, Adele Geras.

If you like Lesley Pearse you might also like to read books by Martina Cole, Elizabeth Waite and Hilary Norman.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


A Lesser Evil by Lesley Pearse

When Fifi moves to London with her bricklayer boyfriend Dan, her mother is outraged. Despite initial feelings of horror at her new surroundings, Fifi finds the freedom from her middle-class family background exhilarating.

Insatiably inquisitive, Fifi is fascinated by her new neighbours and wants to know what goes on behind all those shabby front doors. Why is Yvette, the French dressmaker, such a hermit? Why doesn't widower Frank join his daughter and grandchildren in Australia? And why doesn't the formidable and well-bred Miss Diamond move somewhere smarter?

But most of all she is ghoulishly fascinated by the Muckles who live opposite in terrible squalor. She listens to their violent quarrels, watches their ill-treated and wretchedly unhappy children, and is appalled by all she sees.

When Fifi tries to help the Muckles' youngest child, who has been physically abused by her father, Fifi unwittingly unleashes a chain of events which will not only bring heartache to her and Dan, but terrible danger to all the inhabitants of Dale Street ...

About the Author

Lesley Pearse

Lesley Pearse is one of the UK’s best loved novelists with fans across the globe and sales of over 3 million copies of her books to date. A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines that keep the reader hooked from beginning to end, Pearse introduces you to characters that it is impossible not to care about or forget. There is no formula to her books or easily defined genre. Whether crime as in 'Till We Meet Again', historical adventure like 'Never Look Back', or the passionately emotive 'Trust Me', based on the true-life scandal of British child migrants sent to Australia in the post war period, she engages the reader completely.

Truth is often stranger than fiction and Lesley’s life has been as packed with drama as her books. She was three when her mother died under tragic circumstances. Her father was away at sea and it was only when a neighbour saw Lesley and her brother playing outside without coats on that suspicion was aroused - their mother had been dead for some time. With her father in the Royal Marines, Lesley and her older brother spent three years in grim orphanages before her father remarried - a veritable dragon of an ex army nurse - and Lesley and her older brother were brought home again, to be joined by two other children who were later adopted by her father and step mother, and a continuing stream of foster children. The impact of constant change and uncertainty in Lesley’s early years is reflected in one of the recurring themes in her books: what happens to those who are emotionally damaged as children. It was an extra-ordinary childhood and in all her books, Lesley has skilfully married the pain and unhappiness of her early experiences with a unique gift for storytelling.

'Some strange compulsion kept me writing, even when it seemed hopeless,' she admits. 'I wrote three books before 'Georgia', then along came Darley Anderson who offered to be my agent. Even so, a further six years of disappointments and massive re-writes followed before we finally found a publisher’.

There was more turmoil to follow however, when Lesley's shop failed in the 90's recession, leaving her with a mountain of debts and bruised pride. Her eighteen year marriage broke down, and at fifty she hit rock bottom - it seemed she was back where she had started in a grim flat with barely enough money for her youngest daughters bus fares to school.

'I wrote my way out of it,' she says. 'My second book 'Tara' was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, and I knew I was on my way.'

Lesley's own life is a rich source of material for her books; whether she is writing about the pain of first love, the unwanted abused child, adoption, rejection, fear, poverty and revenge, she knows about it first hand. She’s a fighter, and with her long fought for success has come security. She owns a cottage in a pretty village between Bristol and Bath which she has lovingly renovated and her three daughters, grandson, friends, dogs and gardening have brought her great happiness. She is president of the Bath and West Wiltshire branch of the N.S.P.C.C. the charity closest to her heart.

Lesley Pearse's novels include Georgia, Tara, Charity, Ellie, Camellia, Rosie, Charlie, Never Look Back, Trust Me and Father Unknown, Hope, Gypsy, Stolen, Belle, The Promise and Forgive Me, most of which which are published by Penguin. She was born in Rochester, Kent, but has lived in Bristol for the last twenty-five years. She has three daughters and two grandchildren.

Author Photo © Charlotte Murphy

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Book Info

Publication date

19th January 2006


Lesley Pearse

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Penguin Books Ltd


Paperback (a Format)
528 pages


Romantic Fiction
Family Drama
Historical Fiction