Published Jan 2010
Sandra Newman is adopted before she is a fortnight old. “We love you just the same,” her proxy parents say. But her adoptive mother terrorises the family with rages and suicide attempts. Her father finds solace in an ever-growing porn collection.
Escaping at seventeen to the punk rock squalor of Eighties London, Sandra joins its cheerful demi-monde of rejects and Bohemians. Poverty comes with the territory. Soon she’s living in squats, taking milk in coffee to make it a meal, even surviving by prostitution. Her shambolic attempts to earn money include a tour of the world as a professional gambler and an ill-fated cat music hoax. She is certain that the daylight world, where people have careers and families, is not for her.
Then she receives the phone call that changes her life. “Sandra Newman? This is the Crittendon Home for Unwed Mothers. We believe your birth mother is trying to find you…”
Not many people get a second chance at having parents. For Sandra Newman, that second chance would lead to the opulent mansions of Hollywood; the Soviet Union’s hidden city of astronauts; the writing career she always dreamed of; and a happiness she had never believed could be hers; “improbable, abracadabra joy; what angels feel, or the children of happy families feel. It’s a species of love new to me; as if I had first tasted chocolate as an adult.”