George is an unusually successful travel agent, providing other people with the adventures he dare not risk.
Though content to wrap himself in fantasies, he is haunted by the fact that 'the important things happened whilst his back was turned' and by the belief that he fathered the daughter- now a desirable young woman- of his best friends, Sam and Claire.
To avoid temptation, George stumbles into a disastrous marriage and determines to mould himself into a supportive husband.
But a holiday in Turkey snaps his private world when George finds himself in the midst of intrigue and murder and is forced to acknowledge that life is not the fairy-tale he'd imagined.
In this superbly constructed and mercilessly observed novel, part comedy, part thriller, Nina Bawden exposes the fictions we impose on our lives.