Solid, if a bit wooden, first novel that successfully contrasts East with West and villagegreen Britain with the new Britain--where there is not enough money and everything has broken down. Britisher David Kennedy, after years in Morocco with wife Jean, returns to England and goes on the dole. Meanwhile, Jean, taking her Ph.D., has an affair, a situation David discovers only a week before leaving for a teaching post in Japan. Overseas, he gets marginally involved with a group of expatriates: one, confidante Nicky Stevens, wants moralistic David, but he's shocked--"You're married." Then David takes a holiday in America (where he's "sickened by the excesses of an obese and diseased republic") and, back in Japan, becomes involved with unstable Megumi and her young daughter Kayoko. David becomes Megumi's lover, marries her, and takes her to Britain, despite a jealous rage in which she destroys his most precious keepsakes. Britain is a mess: David teaches near Belfast (rife, of course, with sectarian violence) while Megumi, freed from cultural constraints, increasingly ignores her family and finally has an affair. In quick order, David himself has a depressing affair with Nicky (she's returned to England), Kayoko is killed in a car wreck, and David returns to Tokyo with Megumi, who is by now nearly schizophrenic. When David flies to England alone for his father's funeral, he meets Jean and they get back together: "It was time to break Free" from Megumi. An epilogue tells us that David is a "successful author" while Megumi, catatonic, returns to Northern Ireland and stares at the sea. Collins' protagonist is too flatly self-absorbed to carry the novel, but, still, this works as a grim portrait of cultural vertigo.