Rachel Waring is deliriously happy. Out of nowhere, a great-aunt leaves her a Georgian mansion in another city—and she sheds her old life without delay. Gone is her dull administrative job, her mousy wardrobe, her downer of a roommate. She will live as a woman of leisure, devoted to beauty, creativity, expression, and love. Once installed in her new quarters, Rachel plants a garden, takes up writing, and impresses everyone she meets with her extraordinary optimism. But her new neighbors begin to wonder if she might be taking her transformation just a bit too far.
This skillfully wrought examination of character and relationships opens with macabre impact. A bland newspaper report describes the discovery of two dead women - one of them a skeleton - in a North London house. The author teases the reader toward the known, grisly ending by cutting back and forth in time and gradually constructing the complex pattern of emotions and events that define even the most mundane-seeming lives.
In April 1943, top secret documents written by Sir Archibald Nye and Lord Louis Mountbatten are found by German agents on the body of a drowned man, revealing a daring Allied strategy. But are these letters authentic? Inexperienced Erich Anders, working for the German Intelligence Service, is dispatched to England to find out. A good spy must also be a good actor. Yet only when he encounters the dead man's fiancee, herself a professional actress, are Erich's abilities put fully to the test. What is illusory and what is real?