In A Sparrow's Flight, her second novel, first published in 1989, Margaret Elphinstone is already occupying her characteristic location on the borderlands which were to become familiar territory in her subsequent writing. The novel is set in the 'debatable lands' between Scotland and England but explores more elusive borders between waking and dreaming, sanity and madness, myth and reality, and the unsettling landscape between our imagined pasts and hoped for futures. Thomas and Naomi are on a journey through a world that has experienced catastrophic change. Early reviewers, writing amid the Cold War, placed the story in the aftermath of nuclear holocaust. The author offers no such certainty. The plaintive but unexplained references to 'before the world changed' resonate with a menace all the more unnerving in its ambiguity. Through this regenerating landscape - the previously blighted 'empty lands' - Thomas and Naomi find their journey turns full circle, returning them to their starting point as changed people, with new understandings of friendship and belonging. As with every quest there is a grail and their grail is music. Its rediscovery is a metaphor for that Golden Age we all need to believe existed 'before the world changed.