Blurb of 1984 Collins edition:
Every summer the four Gareth children and their parents had a caravanning holiday. But this particular summer it was not to be: father had to go to the Far East for a whole year and mother followed shortly afterwards as he had suddenly become ill. And so the children flew to Ireland to stay with their Great Aunt Dymphna.
Their home in London was in an ordered suburban street where everybody had a refrigerator and nearly everybody had a washing machine. But at Aunt Dymphna's it was quite different: the house was enormous with vast bedrooms and a gloomy kitchen with a huge black range. And Aunt Dymphna herself was quite like nobody they had seen before. She quoted great lengths of poetry at them and flitted like a bat from room to room while the children were left to fend for themselves entirely.