This novel is a dense, rich celebration of an English family, first in the present time, then in the past--the late 60s and early 70s.
In the first half, four siblings: Harriet, Alice, Roland, and Jane meet at the old family homestead near the sea for a family reunion. The house is being sold, and it will be their last time together at their childhood home.
Accompanying them, are children (Jane’s), a new South American wife (Roland’s--his third), a young friend, and son of a former lover (Alice’s), and all alone, (Harriet).
In the siblings’ idiosyncratic fashion, Harriet arrives first; she leaves the house locked and goes wandering in the forest. Alice arrives with Kasim, and then realizes, what she has done, brought an eighteen-year old to a place with nothing going on. Roland calls and says there will be delay, and that he and Pilar will arrive on Sunday.
Alice runs through the house, throwing open windows, picking and placing beautiful bouquets in each of the adults’ room, while Jane, the mom, practically begins cooking the evening meal as her two children, Ivy and Arthur explore.
Privately, Jane and Harriet discuss whether Kazim is more than a friend to wild, actress Alice. Kazim reads on the porch terribly bored. But on Sunday when Roland, Pilar and Molly, Roland’s sixteen year old daughter, arrive. Kazim immediately perks up at Molly’s appearance.