We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

One Girl Began

On sale

18th April 2024

Price: £20

Select a format

Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781399613651

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

‘A beautiful novel . . . reminds us that our streets are thick with history’

‘Both moving and addictive’



East London, 1909. When her family fall on hard times, Ellen finds work in a box factory and is drawn into a tight-knit circle of friendship, one that will transform her life and test her in unexpected ways.

In 1984, the factory is now derelict. Eighteen-year- old Frances moves in with a group of squatters and activists who have taken over the abandoned building. As she tries to build a new life, an unsettling relationship develops, forcing her to question who she is and where her loyalties lie.

In 2020, the squat is now a gentrified conversion in a fashionable corner of the city. Amanda feels trapped in her tiny flat, overwhelmed by the demands of new motherhood and unsure of what the future holds – until the possibility of an alternative life presents itself . . .

From acclaimed author Kate Murray-Browne, One Girl Began is a vibrant, enthralling and moving novel about three women across three very different moments in time, connected by the same building and the forces that shape our lives.


Ruth Thomas
I was completely gripped by One Girl Began. Kate Murray-Browne is a fantastic writer - it'srare to come across a voice that's both so bold and so subtle, so detailed and sustained, and to read such a skilfully layered work of fiction. Brilliantly involving, witty and deftly handled . . . I highly recommend this wonderful and moving novel
Elizabeth Buchan
A wonderfully textured, truthful, dextrous meditation on the lives of three women grappling with the eternal conundrums of being female. A superb writer, Kate Murray-Browne's beautiful prose is a joy
Joanna Briscoe
With a brilliant concept and a skilful blending of histories, One Girl Began is both moving and addictive
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
A beautiful novel . . . Murray-Browne has a gift for writing the inner life - the thoughts felt deeply but never said aloud, the secret struggles, and the private hopes. One Girl Began charts three lives across time with each storyline deftly asking what it means to navigate life as a woman. And in doing so also reminds us that our streets are thick with history
Frances Quinn
Terrific . . . the kind of book where you miss the characters when you finish it
Julie Owen Moylan
A beautifully written and impeccably researched tale of three women - Ellen, Frances and Amanda - taking us from 1909 through to contemporary London. The storytelling is so vivid and compelling that I felt as if I knew these women and the details of their lives.  With shades of Life After Lifeit's an engrossing story where the complexities of women's lives echo through the different timelines. I absolutely adored it
Karen Angelico
So many moments make you think about women's lives over the decades. A distillation of the challenges and joys women face, brilliantly and cleverly written . . . fascinating, thought-provoking and wise
Marianne Levy
I lovedOne Girl Began. It got me by the throat from the very first page, and I read it in two glorious sittings, trying to ration it but unable to put it down. I love it for what it says about London, how it brings the past so triumphantly into the present. But most of all, I love how Kate writes about being a woman in the world, then and now. Reading it, I felt seen.I can't wait for readers to discover this book. It seems to me that One Girl Began is both a novel and a kind of companion; astute, funny and wise, and steadfast in its championing of what women want and need. Read it to feel loved, and outraged, and inspired. Read it because it's not just a book, it's a friend
Hackney Citizen
One Girl Began can be read as a feminist history of the borough in fictional form; it can also be savoured as a set of engrossing stories about women working out how to be themselves. Either way, the book's lively prose and well-paced storytelling are sure to be enjoyed
Polly Ho-Yen
A total gem. Astounding, immersive storytelling weaving together three moving portraits of women living in Hackney. A book that rocks you and won't let you go
Emily Howes
I was hooked from the first page - Kate Murray-Browne is a brilliant writer and One Girl Began is startlingly good. I loved the intricately woven spider's web of connections between the three narratives . . . beautifully done