Shena Mackay began publishing her fiction in the 1960s—the two novellas Dust Falls on Eugene Schlumburger and Toddler on the Run were written when she was a teenager and published together in 1964 —but she had a long period (more than a decade) when she was unable to get her work published and it was only in the 1980s and 1990s that she was finally recognised as one of the country’s sharpest and funniest comic novelists. She combines a keen social observation of everyday life, most often in suburban London, with an eye for the absurd and an appreciation for the eccentric and those who march to the sound of a different drum. Her characterisation of women struggling to raise families in difficult circumstances, hindered rather than helped by feckless, occasionally threatening men, is particularly sympathetic.