After the appearance of Fleur Adcock's Poems 1960-2000 she wrote no more poems for several years. This cessation coincided with - but was not entirely caused by - her giving up smoking. When poetry returned to her in 2003 it tended towards a sparer, more concentrated style. This new collection continues to reflect her preoccupations with family matters and with her ambivalent feelings about her native New Zealand. Her initial inspiration was the letters her father wrote home from England to his parents during World War II, which evoked her own memories of that era. The central sequence moves from her first coming to consciousness in New Zealand up to and through the war years in Britain and on to sketches from her teens in puritanical postwar Wellington after her reluctant return - not without her usual sardonic eye for incongruities and absurdities. There are also affectionate poems for her grandchildren and her late mother.
'It's a shock to realise that this is Adcock's first new collection for a decade; the pin-sharp voice of poems such as "Against Coupling", "Advice to a Discarded Lover" and "For a Five Year Old" is so essential and recognisable that it's difficult to know how we've done without it for 10 years. Inspired by the letters her father wrote from England, where he was stationed, to his parents in New Zealand during the second world war, this collection returns Adcock to familiar territory: the family, and her own complex feelings towards her native country' - Sarah Crown, Guardian