The fifth Duke of Portland is a Victorian misfit, man who spends his time and wealth creating a network of tunnels beneath his Nottinghamshire estate. As he withdraws further from society he falls prey to his lonely self-absorption and to the mercy of his household staff. His rare appearances are misinterpreted and local gossip has inflated his eccentricities into sinister deformities. No one, not even he, understands his most persistent ache, a pain of absence that no amount of tunnelling or searching can bring to light. The Duke's slow piecing together of the truth about his past builds to an intensely moving and powerful conclusion. 'The narrative structure is immaculate, the characterization superb, the prose so polished you can see your face in it' Max Davidson, Daily Telegraph 'Soaked through with originality and expertly written: tragicomic fiction with the most endearingly sympathetic of anti-heroes' Dominic Bradbury, The Times 'A remarkable balancing act, witty, restrained and shot through with interesting tensions.
As a first novel it is, quite simply, astonishing' Christina Patterson, Observer 'A strong narrative drive, a Gothic twist and a wonderful cast of secondary characters make this an entrancingly readable book. What lifts it into the prize-deserving category is Jackson's uncannily visual prose' Miranda Seymour, Sunday Telegraph