In a small North-Western town where it always rains, the factories have closed and everyone lives for beer, bare flesh and brawling on Saturday nights, Jeannie works in the perfume hall of Pemberton's department store. A little dowdy, a little dog-eared, she is not the most impressive of perfume girls, and largely passes her days counting down to her marriage to Jimmy, her teenage sweetheart, now a mechanic.
The course of Jeannie's life has always seemed plotted out - she will remain in the town where she was raised, settle down, have children. But since Jimmy's proposal she has begun to question whether this is what she really wants. Her confusion is not aided by Daniel, a drifter she meets at the railway station. Well-read, comparatively well-travelled, and with a cultivated air of mystery, he suggests excitement, possibility, and a life beyond the town.
As her wedding day nears she must decide whether to stay and get married, or take a chance on a man who may not be all he seems.
Laura Barton was born in Lancashire in 1977, and now lives in London. She has been a journalist at the Guardian since 2000, and has also written for Q, the Word, Intelligent Life and Radio 4.
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