During the long summer holiday, the Lampton and Hallwright families gather in a large beach house belonging to Prime Minister David Hallwright and his wife Roza. The weather is perfect and outwardly all is well, but the harmony is disturbed when Simon Lampton's brother arrives for a visit. Ford casts a cold eye over the company, barely disguising his contempt for David Hallwright. To add to Simon's discomfort a young man called Arthur Weeks makes contact, asking about his secret past affair, and Roza begins to tell her small son Johnnie a continuous story about a group of fantasy creatures - a story that contains uncomfortable parallels with their current lives. When Simon agrees to meet secretly with Arthur Weeks, the result will threaten the security of them all. Charlotte Grimshaw's exhilaratingly gripping and clever narrative traces the lives of its beautiful people - 'moral imbeciles' in Ford's words - as they jostle for position in their leader's court. This humane and capacious novel, generous and faithful to its characters in ways that they are not to each other, articulates the ancient idea that to be moral is an act of consciousness, an effort of will.