The only child of divorced parents, Penelope Lively was often sent to stay at her grandparents' country house, Golsoncott. Years later when the house was sold, she began to piece together the lives of those she knew fifty years before. Through a needlework sampler, she sees her grandmother and the wartime children that she sheltered in 1940. Potted-meat jars remind her of doing the flowers for church. The smell of the harness room brings her Aunt Rachel - avant-garde artist, fervent horsewoman - vividly back to life.
In A House Unlocked, Penelope Lively delves into the domestic part of her former home, unearthing the stories surrounding the house and family, not only telling of her own youth but also brilliantly evoking the contrasts between life today and the way they lived then.