Pub Date: February 14, 2023

Author: Alison Light

PEN Ackerly Award Winner for memoir

Alison Light met the radical social historian, Raphael Samuel, in London in 1986. Twenty years her senior, Raphael was a charismatic figure on the British Left, utterly driven by his work and by a commitment to collective politics. Within a year they were married. Within ten, Raphael would pass away.

Theirs was an attraction of opposites— he from a Jewish Communist family with its roots in Russia and Eastern Europe, she from the English working class. In this chronicle of a passionate marriage, Alison Light peels back the layers of their time together, its intimacies and its estrangements.

“…more than just some summing-up: it is a work of art.” —GUARDIAN

“An inspiring account of … deep love…” —TLS


“Remarkable, moving, illuminating. A memoir of cauterizing honesty. This is a book that deserves to be widely read.”

—Mark Bostridge, Spectator


“Beautifully crafted…it casts a light on the lightness of love and the profound depression of loss. A truly gifted writer.”



“The portrait of Spitalfields is superb, and so is the account of Raphael’s astonishing mother Minna.”

—Margaret Drabble, TLS, Book of the Year


“Compulsively readable. Light is a shrewd narrator…She reflects with careful psychological and philosophical insight on the reality of loneliness and profound loss following ten years of marriage…Light is also a poet and it shows in certain suppositions and propositions…” —RTE