A new edition of a brilliant, black comedy from a writer at the peak of her powers.
Behaving badly made Lydia feel better. She hoped she wasn't turning into one of those maniacs who murder people in order to establish their superiority over their fellows who say Please and Thank you and conform to the basic customs of society.
Recovering from a love affair gone wrong, Lydia retreats to the Welsh countryside, leaving behind her sophisticated friends, but accidentally inviting Betty, "the human equivalent of sackcloth and ashes," as her companion. There they encounter Hywel, a dour farmer, Elizabeth, his nervous wife, the aspiring priest Beuno, Hywel's brother, and randy Doctor Wyn. Meanwhile Hywel's strange sister Angharad roams the land, observing all, while Lydia is increasingly unnerved by the unexplained laughter that comes down from the hills.
Alice Thomas Ellis, whose real name was Anna Haycraft, was half-Finnish, half-Welsh and spent her childhood in Liverpool and as an evacuee in North Wales. She lived in Camden in North London with her family. Her friend Beryl Bainbridge wrote of her: "Whenever I had to go somewhere in an aeroplane I'd ring Anna up and ask if she thought God would keep it in the air. She always said He would."