There were many who said of Riley (as he was almost always known) that in his early life he appeared to be older than his years. With a harsh childhood behind him, he left school with little in the way of knowledge but brimful of optimism and secure in the knowledge that one of his teachers, Fred Beardsley, had faith in his future. While on honeymoon in Paris, Fred Beardsley ran into Riley, who said he'd won first prize in a talent competition and had been offered a 'position' at The Little Palace Theatre in Fellburn.
Fred and his wife were amazed when it became clear that Riley had actually been appointed assistant stage-manager. And then he further surprised them by forming a close friendship with the leading lady, thirty-something Nyrene Forbes- Mason. What Riley hadn't told them, however, was that he had great hopes of the relationship developing into something more than a friendship . . .
Riley's relationship with Nyrene did indeed develop, although its outcome was not quite as he had planned.
In a career that has extended over more than forty-five years, Catherine Cookson, Britain's best-loved writer, has seldom written a more forthright and controversial novel, as she explores with remarkable insight the relationship between a young man and an older woman.