Palliser Wentwood, dangerously charming, has run away to England, leaving his farm in New Zealand, his beautiful wife Salome, his daughters, and his many creditors. Palliser is in search of a fortune, enough to restore the prosperity of farm and family.
In Thule Hall, Herts, live the Lovelaces, Hubert and Blanche, brother and sister, both splendidly tall and fleshy, shy and gothically retired. Engaged as a butler, and posing as a grieving widower, Palliser turns his charms on Blanche, teasing out laughter and beauty where before there was only timidity.
But will his deception succeed? Can he bring himself to ruin her? Or, back in New Zealand, will Salome succumb to the gentle siege of Philip Butterworth, solicitor and suitor?
This is an exceptional first novel, wise and funny and sad in equal measure, and peopled by a cast of characters as singular as they are delightful.