It's March 1985 and Nicky Starling is turning eight, but it's a sad day. Nicky's grandmother Didie has just died. Almost worse - his father's beloved football team has lost the first match of the season. Nicky will miss Didie but he still has Rose, Didie's nurse. He wishes he could love footy, but what he really loves are the tales of King Arthur and stories from Shakespeare that his mother reads to him and that he acts out in his bedroom. But these stories don't have happy endings, an alarming fact for a boy whose family life is starting to fracture. Funny, tender and savage, The Starlings is a wonderfully entertaining novel about secrets and defeat, about heroism and love, about what it might mean to lose everything.