Seventeen-year-old Alan can’t stand rows. But, though the Second World War has ended, peace hangs by a fine thread at home: his troublesome sister Madge creeps off for night-time liaisons with a German POW; their ineffectual father – broken by the hardships of war and an unhappy marriage – can’t put food on the table despite the family’s middle-class manners. Meanwhile, his mother pursues her escapist fantasies in romantic novels and love affairs. Obedient, faithful Alan is trapped among them all, the focus of their jibes and resentment, as inexorably the family heads towards disaster. Beryl Bainbridge’s classic early novel is a vintage story of English domestic life, laced with sadness, irony and wicked black humour.