Nina is worried about her son, james: he'a got exams coming up, a distracting new girlfriend with pneumatic breasts and now, it seems, he's on drugs. And there's something important she hasn't been telling. Guy is worried about his wife, Jane. She's not coped well with their move to suburbia and her relationship with their impossible three-year-old is growing more fraught by the day. And she's started to acquire some peculiar habits. He's tried praying for guidance but just lately God's gone quiet on him. Jane is worried about herself: she's not making a roaring success of motherhood, and since losing her faith in that other, modern god, sex, she's not proving to be the world's best wife, either. Then there's Hugo: infuriating, tactless and accident-prone, he's been out of the picture for seventeen years, ever since that terrible trip to the desert. if he comes back he may or may not discover something that could blow Jane and Guy's marriage apart. Unless of course, Nina gets there first.
University might equip people for one aspect of life - establishing a career - but doesn't necessarily help much with the fundamentals of coping with the rest of the grown-up world. And there is always the danger of youthful follies rising from their graves in all their embarrassing awfulness, just when stability seems within reach. In 1976, for their final vacation, Guy, Martin and Nina are persuaded to be egocentric geographer Hugo's back-up team on a field trip to Algeria; an expedition they should have known would be blighted from the start. It is not until the 1990s that retribution for earlier mistakes and impulsive foolishness come home to roost. When Hugo, safely domiciled for 17 years in Australia suddenly threatens to return to England, some well-settled stones concealing ancient indiscretions look like being overturned. In clean, clear prose, and with affectionate humour, Chambers reminds us that every stage of life has its repercussions on the years ahead. (Kirkus UK)