On a hot midsummer morning, after sixteen years of marriage, Jane saw her husband fifty feet away and did not recognise him. Alan has changed because he's injured his back. Pain has altered his appearance, but he has also changed in other ways: he has become glum and demanding. Jane has to do everything for him - fetching, carrying, shopping, cooking, even dressing and undressing him. When she longs for escape, her mother accuses her of selfishness - of course she can't abandon a man so handicapped and needy...Meanwhile Henry cares in a different way for his self-centred wife, Delia, a writer and researcher specialising in fairytales, who in her own estimation is a 'Great Artist'. He tends the flame, making certain Delia gets everything she desires including spectacular doses of adulation. Can sexy Delia, with her trailing scarves and lacy shirts, coax Alan out of his grumpiness? Can Henry stop Jane feeling guilty? Can the couples swap roles?
Alison Lurie is a Professor of English at Cornell University. Her non fiction books include studies of folklore and children's literature, and her novels include such favourites as The War Between the Tates, Foreign Affairs, The Truth about Lorin Jones and Last Resort. She divides her time between Ithaca and Florida in the United States and Maida Vale in London.