Elliott & Thompson £7.99 (342pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

One Apple Tasted, By Josa Young

Following in the footsteps of once-popular novelists Rose Macaulay and Margaret Kennedy, Josa Young debuts with an entertaining and charming romance about love, sex and the upper-middle classes behaving badly.

Dora Jerusalem, fresh from Cambridge, has just landed herself a coveted job as "features assistant to the assistant features editor" on the glossy, "Modern Woman". It's 1982 – Ultravox is on the radio, Opium scents the air and life for Dora is a heady round of publicity junkets and free lunches. At one of these champagne-laced events she encounters art dealer Guy Boleyn - a beautiful whey-faced boy with a talent for bitchy put-downs and an indecent number of close women friends.

Avoiding the more usual pitfalls of popular fiction – unrealistic characterisation and outlandish coincidences – Young's novel not only explores the long-term consequences of romantic love, but its changing fashions and seasons. Coming of age in the era of Aids and Ecstasy, Dora finds herself un-modishly attached to a more serious set of mores. When Dora's own mother's personal history comes to light, Young takes the opportunity to contrast the experiences of two very different generations of spirited young girls, writing realistically about their first collisions with sex and rejection.

Pursuing a path that takes Dora from the Home Counties to the Himalayas, this likeable, clear-sighted heroine determines to discover if following her heart's desire will eventually bear fruit.

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