In 1962, a 16-year-old boy is dropped off by his father at a boarding school on the windswept coast of East Anglia. It is a model of its kind-the rooms are freezing, the food is disgusting, the older boys are sadistic, and the masters are the ineffectual, damaged castoffs of a dying Empire.
But the boy is used to the drill and well practiced at detached dreaming, imagining himself someone else, somewhere else. Until one day, falling behind one of the regular runs along the coast, he meets Finn.
Finn seems like a character from a novel, or a dream. Dressed in clothes that look the way they did a century before, Finn lives alone with his cat in a tiny fisherman's hut. The two become friends, the boy risking scandalous rumour and expulsion from school.
But the idyll cannot last, disaster invades from all sides, and the boy discovers that nothing has been what he believed.
What I Was will cement Meg Rosoff's reputation as a writer of extraordinary skill and sensitivity, who recreates with uncanny exactness the passions of youth.
"From the Hardcover edition."