"For God's sake, leave me alone. Keep your friends, and leave me to mine! I'm too old for you, I belong to a different generation, I belong to the Jarrolds!"
Old Mr. Jarrold is proud of the coal which has made his fortune; he is also proud of his daughter-in-law Evelyn, who has kept close to the heels of the family since her husband's death in the First World War, a caring mother to her son, Dan. At thirty-nine Evelyn is a woman of irreproachable conduct who parties and plays cards with the best of society. Then she meets Miles Vane-Merrick, a rising Labour politician, fifteen years her junior. Theirs is a love affair between people of different temperaments and different eras, for Evelyn knows only the social mores of her own circle and with Miles these securities dissolve. In this finely balanced novel, first published in 1932, the uncertainties of one relationship mirror the wider uncertainties of the 1930's, producing an elegant portrait of a country on the brink of change.