The novel opens with a surprise phone call from an old university friend, inviting Ian and his wife, Em, for a few days by the sea. Their hosts, Ollie and Daisy, are a golden couple whose glamour and happiness drive Ian to distraction, and dangerous tensions quickly emerge. Beneath congenial yet charged conversation over meals and wine, the history of Ian?s attachment to Daisy is slowly uncovered. His rivalry with Ollie intensifies as they resurrect an almost forgotten bet made twenty years before. Each day becomes a series of challenges for higher and higher stakes, setting in motion actions that will have irreversible and fatal consequences.
In vivid, careful prose, where flashes of wit collide with moments of troubling uncertainty, Blake Morrison perfectly conveys the stifling atmosphere of a remote cottage in the hottest days of summer.