Edward is throwing a dinner party with Binny , his mistress. Aware that she has long been denied those small intimacies that his wife takes for granted - choosing a birthday present for his sister, for example, or sorting his socks - he wants to give her a chance to feel more involved in his life, to socialise with some of his friends (the discreet ones). Things are a little awkward to begin with - a late start and him having to be away by half past ten - but everything seems to be going well. But then some uninvited, and reather forceful guests arrive, and it doesn't look like Edward is going to make it home on time.
Beryl Bainbridge is one of the greatest living novelists. Author of seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television, she has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, and has won many literary awards including the Whitbread Prize and the Author of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.