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Adam is a writer, struggling to come to terms with the death of his painter father, Robert, and his difficult marriage to Catherine. Before he married Catherine, he had been the lover of her sister, Vinny. The classic menage à trois seems about to repeat itself, when Adam discovers his wife’s father was less innocent than he had thought.

Set mainly in contemporary London, partly in France, the action also harks back to the 1970’s. The narrative evokes the style of the nineteenth century novelists and their themes: desire, guilt, pleasure. Pastoral landscapes alternate with those of the inner city and the past’s interaction with the present is acted out by ghosts. The dead father haunts his son; in real life Vinny haunts her sister; and the whole novel is haunted by one of its great earliest exponents, Charlotte Bronte, and her passionate search for creative fulfilment.


Roberts is such a fine writer - one of those languorous word-painters who crafts every sentence with loving care - marvellous to read ... she excels at texture, giving apparently simple scenes a warm sensual glow Sunday Telegraph
"Michele Roberts writes some of the most sensual prose around in contemporary fiction ... You do not just read the book, you also smell and see the action" Penelope Lively, Spectator
"Beautifully depicted settings ... textured, sensual writing" Sunday Express Magazine
"Roberts's delightful new novel ... is a celebration of the sensual joy of reading. Both Charlotte and Vinny discuss the literary experience in quasi-sexual terms. Meanwhile, Roberts's superbly evocative descriptive writing proves their point" Michael
"Roberts's detailing of early 1970s counter-culture and the faded bohemians of today's north London is acute. Her central character, the free-spirited poet Vinny, is colourfully believable, and the story of her betrayal by her sister ... is perfectly delineated" Guardian
"Michele Roberts's greatest gift is conjuring up material things. Her flowers are the verbal equivalent of trompe l'oeil. She writes with lovely, discriminating greed about food. Her descriptions of houses are intensely evocative" Lucy Hughes- Hallett
"Presented with Roberts's customary gift for sumptuous description and eye for telling detail" Joan Smith, Independent
"Robert s’ books are intricately made, and what happens to the characters grows out of the way new feelings, old repressions and scars and the lure of the future interact and force the characters along one course or another. The nexus of desire, guilt,