Roy Southgate and Reginald Conynghame-Jervis have nothing in common but their loneliness and their wartime memories. Roy, a retired milkman and Reggie, a former RAF Squadron Leader, are widowed on the same day. To assuage their grief, the vicar arranges for Roy to move in with Reggie as his unpaid manservant. To their surprise, they form a strange alliance, based on obedience, need and the strangeness of single life. Then Reggie meets Liz, a vibrant but near-bankrupt woman of irresistible appeal, while Roy and his son's family grow gradually closer. Marriage, it seems, however far from ideal, can be a great protector against isolation.
Ivy Compton-Burnett (1884-1969) grew up in Hove and London. She was encouraged by her father, who sadly died from a sudden heart attack when she was sixteen, to read Classics from a young age. She attended Holloway College in London to study Classics and wrote her first novel Delores in 1911. Compton-Burnett suffered several losses after her father - her closest brother died three years later, three more of her younger siblings and her mother passed away by the time she was 35, something she rarely spoke about, but constantly visited in her novels. Compton-Burnett published twenty novels. However, the first of her works to use her mature and original style was published when she was forty, in 1925. Compton-Burnett's fiction is often said to be Edwardian in setting - the domestic occurrences in large households. She never married and lived in London as companion to Margaret Jourdain. She was named a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in 1967.