She let herself out of the large, untidy house and into her own beautiful, hyacinth-scented one. She sat down in the bay-window of her bedroom and combed her hair before the mirror. She took it all down and built it up again, but there was no one to see what she had done.
In the faded coastal village of Newby, everyone looks out for - and in on - each other, and beneath the deceptively sleepy exterior, passions run high.
Beautiful divorcee Tory is painfully involved with her neighbour, Robert, while his wife Beth, Tory's best friend, is consumed by the worlds she creates in her novels, oblivious to the relationship developing next door. Their daughter Prudence is aware, however, and is appalled by the treachery she observes. Mrs Bracey, an invalid whose grasp on life is slipping, forever peers from her window, constantly prodding her daughters for news of the outside world. And Lily Wilson, a lonely young widow, is frightened of her own home. Into their lives steps Bertram, a retired naval officer with the unfortunate capacity to inflict lasting damage while trying to do good.
'Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one's own experience' - Elizabeth Bowen
'Always intelligent, often subversive and never dull, Elizabeth Taylor is the thinking person's dangerous housewife. Her sophisticated prose combines elegance, icy wit and freshness in a stimulating cocktail' - Valerie Martin
'A magnificent and underrated mid-20th-century writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike' - David Baddiel, Independent