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Shelf life: Looking at secular books

Philip is discovered hiding in the basement of what will become the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1895. He has run away from the Potteries with their poverty, disease and smoke with a desire to make something beautiful. He is discovered by other children and is drawn with the reader into the overwhelming and confusing world of middle-class Bohemia.

Secular Shelf Life Sarah Allen

By A.S. Byatt
Vintage. 624 pages. £7.99
ISBN 978-0-09953-545-4