Beryl Bainbridge's classic early novel weaves a dark, clever tale of a young woman in thrall to a golden stranger in 1960s London.
'People came in and out, chairs were moved, dishes gathered up on trays, but it was happening at a great distance; she concentrated entirely on his pink face crowned with foppish curls.'
Genteel, passive Ann works for the BBC in London and is engaged to a successful academic, fulfilling her snobbish mother's ambitions - more or less - while the Swinging Sixties happen elsewhere, to other people. Then she meets William: snub-nosed and generous, cunning and protean. She is first seduced, then transfixed, as William's past, present and future swirl around her kaleidoscopically, overwhelmingly, and Ann is herself irrevocably, and irreparably, changed.
Cunningly clever, wry, dry, sharply pointed - Evening Standard
Alarming humour and a powerful talent - Daily Telegraph
Beryl Bainbridge wrote seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television, she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, and won literary awards including the Whitbread Prize and the Author of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. She died in July 2010.