British novelist, born in London, a former actress who achieved immediate success with her first novel, Hideous Kinky (1992). It tells of a child's upbringing in Morocco at the hands of her bohemian mother. Set in an abandoned London tower block, Peerless Flats (1993) offered a slightly bleaker portrait of dysfunctional families. Gaglow (1997) told the parallel stories of an impoverished single mother and her East German ancestors. Childhood and family themes are at the centre of The Wild (2000) which, like her other novels, is distinguished by a prevailing generosity of spirit, pierced by frequent shafts of irony. The Sea House (2003) is a love story set in a Suffolk coastal village.