BAFTA-winning screenwriter and novelist William Nicholson has outdone himself with this sequel to Motherland.

The ambitious Reckless is set largely against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis. London is a complex social world: bachelor Rupert advises Mountbatten as the rhetoric escalates and governments wage a war of bluster; Pamela is 18, bored, beautiful, and desperate to fall in love but falls in with Stephen Ward and Christine Keeler instead; at 29, Mary lives anonymously, ashamed of the childhood visions of Jesus Christ that turned her into a child prophet in Ireland; Khrushchev and Kennedy swear and scheme and count warheads.

It’s a Who’s Who of 1960s Britain, a masterful interweaving of the historical and the emotional, and in Nicholson’s hands, we almost expect the characters to walk off the page.

As the political clouds gather, whirlwinds descend on the Londoners. National fears hatch in backstreet conversations, Pamela sails giddily out of her depth, marriages falter with delicate ambiguity, spiritual demons are laid to rest, and love and secrets bleed unexpectedly into the present.

I raced through the 500 pages in 24 hours; full marks: 10/10

Reckless by William Nicholson is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £16.99 (ebook £10.99). Available February 13.

Review by Kitty Wheater, Press Association