Dora Bannan hopes for a new life when she moves her husband and their three children to the wild moorland. She finds a job teaching music at a progressive school, where she also enrolls the children-their fellow students the progeny of back-to-the-land bohemians. But when the school's elegant art teacher, Elisabeth Dahl, offers Dora a seductive alternative to her traditional domestic life, Dora finds that real change is far from easy. Meanwhile, her precocious only daughter, Cecilia, longs for a more traditional life, especially the formal education her new school can't offer. The girl becomes obsessed with her English teacher, James Dahl-an errant representative of the establishment she craves, and husband of the dangerous Elisabeth.
Twenty years later, the adult Cecilia brings her partner and daughters back home to the moors and her aging mother. Moving between past and present, You slowly reveals how far Dora and Cecilia let their private, impossible desires lead them-and how much further the consequences extend. Sensual, unnerving, and gripping, You is a novel about the lives we think we want, the choices we can't unmake, and the loves and losses we never forget.
A children's book author excavates her past in Briscoe's taut follow-up to Sleep with Me. Cecilia Bannon returns to her childhood home on the English moor with her husband and children to care for her mother, Dora. The novel moves back and forth from the current story to the 1970s, when Dora moved to the country, hoping for a life of bohemian freedom and artistic expression for her children, an ideal that takes shape at Hayes House, the local progressive school. But Cecilia's English teacher, James Dahl, has a different lesson in store for the girl, and his indulgence in her school girl crush leads to a very real pregnancy that ends with an informal adoption. Back in the present, Cecilia, now a mother to three girls, is so haunted by having given up her first daughter that she embarks on a mission to find her, though what she discovers isn't at all what she expected. Briscoe depicts this world of few rules and many consequences with honesty and with compassion. In lucid, observant prose, she captures the messiness of family and, crushingly, the consequences of desire.