An imaginary island on the Equator has suddenly achieved importance through the discovery of oil - what will happen to the men and women living under the tensions of life on this island? At one end of this island is the oil refinery where the members of the staff live in constant proximity to one another, and where emotions are heightened by the lack of privacy. The men are goaded by ambitions for power, while the women are drawn into affairs of love and passion. At the other end of the island is a hotbed of politics where a British diplomat is attempting to retain the island under Britain's sphere of influence; where an ailing king is fearful of what will happen when he is succeeded by a young and untrained prince; where a nationalist group is plotting to overthrow the monarchy and seize the oil fields. Waugh handles brilliantly his political plots, but always interwoven with them are the personal dramas of love and fear, of cowardice and courage. Rich in detail and characterisation, and in the exotic colours and customs of this strange land, the novel has constant suspense and variety.
Alec Waugh, 1898-1981, was a British novelist born in London and educated at Sherborne Public School, Dorset. Waugh’s first novel, The Loom of Youth (1917), is a semi-autobiographical account of public-school life that caused some controversy at the time and led to his expulsion. Waugh was the only boy ever to be expelled from The Old Shirburnian Society. Despite setting this record, Waugh went on to become the successful author of over 50 works, and lived in many exotic places throughout his life which later became the settings for some of his texts. He was also a noted wine connoisseur and campaigned to make the cocktail party a regular feature of 1920s social life.