An exploration of the day-to-day world of a disparate group of people rebuilding their lives in postwar England.
1949 finds famous sculptor Felix Breit and his wife, Angela, a sound recording expert, both concentration camp survivors, living in a semi-communal group at the Dower House estate with architects Adam and Sally, Willard and Marianne, and Tony and his French, non-architect wife, Nicole. Also in residence are Felix’s former lover Faith, a publishing executive; writer Eric and his Swedish-born wife, Isabella; economist Terence and his wife, Hilary; and BBC cameraman Arthur and his wife, May—along with an ever-growing group of children known as The Tribe. The group, whose politics range from conservative to Communist, get along despite their endless provocative discussions about Britain’s, and indeed the world’s, future. Many in the group are still struggling to overcome their wartime experiences. Although Felix and Angela have the bitterest memories to deal with, the arrival of Marianne’s father, a Nazi-loving aristocrat, changes her life. Ambitious Faith finds a husband whose job at the BBC is a cover for his activities as a spy. And the addition of a young artist with a string of lovers adds spice to the community. By 1952, when the story ends, rationing will have ceased, a huge effort will have begun to rebuild England after the wartime bombings, and the future of commercial television will have presented opportunities for several Dower House denizens.
Although nothing much seems to happen in the second installment of the Felix Breit saga (The Dower House, 2011), the times are exciting and the characters well-enough drawn to whet the appetite for more.