Iris Murdoch's 26th novel is a romp as well as an homage to that master of convoluted comedy, Shakespeare. She has adopted a syncopated, slightly mocking tone, and many scenes have a distinctly theatrical air. She has also achieved a disarming sense of timelessness, due in part to the fact that her eccentric characters, a close-knit circle of friends, are extremely well-off and spend their days and nights dashing between their country estates and their London houses.
The tale begins on the eve of a wedding. Edward is to marry the lovely Marian. Benet, his rather fussy friend and neighbor, is in charge of the proceedings. Marian's note leaves everyone in a tizzy.
Who is Jackson? Where is Marian? The darkness of mystery mingles with the lightness of comedy for something completely different.