This richly textured first novel, about a child's struggle for emotional survival, skilfully interweaves scenes of comedy with a drama of family conflict. In a North London suburb just after the Second World War, Susan Harding, abandoned at an early age by a flighty mother, is being brought up by her grandmother . . . irreparably marked by her own harsh upbringing in Victorian poverty . . . Susan's central relationship in this claustrophobic world is with her gentle grandfather, who first introduces her to life outside the home, and on whom she dotes . . . In the end a climactic scene of violence confirms to Susan, ironically, the great nourishment of love. This moving novel vividly creates a child's world into which adult reality gradually enters.
John Murray, London, 1985
John Murray, London, 1985 Out of Bounds is the account of a Dickensian childhood in which lack of love is felt more deeply than outright hardship. . . Frances Hill makes a convincing figure of young Susan Harding, hard up against an inimical world. . . Some potentially hazardous minute descriptions of immediate surroundings, and confusions of chronology over the Second World War and the Fire of London, are triumphantly carried off. The novel's actions widens out in later chapters, but the note of vulnerability struck in the opening pages is sustained and Hill achieves a genuine empathy with the emotions of childhood, its greater and lesser cares.
Lindsay Duguid, The London Times Literary Supplement
"One of the most difficult things for a novelist is to capture the thoughts and feelings of a child, but Frances Hill has achieved this feat with notable success in her first novel Out of bounds. Poor little Susan Harding, knowing no other she cannot tell how bleak is her existence. . . That Susan emerges from this emotional vacuum with her sense of self intact is a tribute to the resilience of youth, that our attention is thoroughly engaged by this often gloomy and episodic saga is testimony to the author's skill."