The one thing you do not need when staging your adolescent rebellion, in a post-apocalyptic world, is to be pregnant. But Lalla does not know that she is pregnant because she is so young and she is grieving for her mother. Her father, a visionary, has prepared a ship for 500 survivors, which sails from England to who knows where. Only Lalla realises that there is something wrong - and I don't mean her pregnancy.
Four or five hundred years ago, people walked the streets with oranges stuck with cloves held to their noses, or little posies of sweet rosebuds. They believed that terrible diseases were carried by terible smells, and if they could not smell the smlles, then the ghastly rashes that marked the dying would never blossom on their own skin. They were wrong, my mother said. But we had no oranges, no cloves, no scented flowers, so I don't know how she could have known.