Tonight nineteen-year-old William Lavery is dressed for success, his first black-tie do. It's the Midlands Chapter of the Institute of Embalmers Ladies' Night Dinner Dance, and William is taking Gloria in her sequined evening gown. He can barely believe his luck.
But as the guests sip their drinks and smoke their post-dinner cigarettes a telegram delivers news of a tragedy. An event so terrible it will shake the nation. It is October 1966 and a landslide at a coal mine has buried a school: Aberfan.
William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job, and will be - although he's yet to know it - a choice that threatens to sacrifice his own happiness. His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to bury.
But compassion can have surprising consequences, because - as William discovers - giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.
AUTHOR: Jo Browning Wroe grew up in a crematorium in Birmingham. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and is now Creative Writing Supervisor at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. Her debut novel, A Terrible Kindness, was shortlisted for the Bridport Peggy Chapman-Andrews award. She has two adult daughters and lives with her husband in Cambridge.
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