Clive is contentedly middle-aged, an engineer who wants to turn to a slower-paced, settled and peaceful life with his wife in their much-loved, inherited city apartment, which they consider to be their castle, their bubble, and which they plan to never leave.
He and Mary live a happy and self-contained life, being extremely close, loyal, and entirely focused on each other.
They see the modern world around them as full of corruption, selfishness, fading morals and dumbed-down popular culture, and they want to keep away from all of that, to just be left alone.
Their peace is disturbed, turned upside down by combined pressure from a secretive group comprising family, professional and political circles to join them in covert manipulation to accrue personal financial benefits.
When Clive refuses to commit serious professional and ethical misconduct, he is forced into early retirement.
Intrusions from their inconsiderate and irritating neighbours, as well as from a mob-owned bar across the street that constantly plays music at unbearable volumes, disturb their happy home life.
The abuse prevents their normal activities and sleep, destroys their life as they know it, and drives them to all-consuming desperation.
They try to solve the problems by communicating with the abusers first, then seek protection from the authorities, but to no avail.
The abuse from the bar continues for years, and Clive's despair becomes much greater as Mary develops a serious disease and dies.
His ensuing deep sorrow turns into an uncontrollable rage on one occasion when a mobster offends his beloved Mary.
He is driven to hit the bar owner, who subsequently dies.
This opens another huge hole in his soul, ever-lasting regret and guilt.
He is charged, detained for a year in prison awaiting trial, and finally pronounced insane by the court.
It commits him to a psychiatric hospital for mandatory treatment.
Altogether, he spends almost five years in institutional lock-up, time he spends desperately and endlessly fighting with the system to survive mentally, emotionally and physically.
In that battle, he has help just from his Mary, who he constantly talks to in his heart and mind, and from his friends Tom and Kath, the only people who support him.
After Clive is ultimately declared cured and released from hospital, he goes to live alone on a remote farm, hoping that the whole outside world, apart from Tom and Kath, will just leave him alone.
However, the intrusions into his bubble do not stop, as locals interfere with and fracture his peace, even there.
Frustrated, he falls ill but is saved by Jane, a successful businesswoman in the nearby town.
Unlike Clive, she is very sociable, a cheerful optimist.
In time, they develop a fulfilling friendship, then later aa real love.
But their happiness is deeply shaken by Jane's professional downfall, caused by financial chicanery on the part of her greedy, ruthless business partner.
Her friends then exclude Jane from her social fabric, considering that Clive has a bad history; he and Jane become outcasts, black sheep in the community.
Worse, her adult son rejects Clive as a deeply problematic man, who he does not want around his own family.
Consequently, Clive and Jane have to think hard and search deeply to resolve all their problems with their heads held high, and to find a way to keep their life as they want it to be.
While doing that, they come to appreciate what it means to be unafraid to differ, and they decide to live their life in their own way, even if nobody else approves of it.
- Format: Paperback / softback
- Pages: 282 pages
- Publisher: Star Graphics (Uniprint)
- Publication Date: 09/06/2016
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780473353629