Justin Cartwright’s thirteenth novel concerns the Crosses, a successful London family trying to regroup following the death of Nancy, the wife and mother whose constancy had given everyone a sense of place. David Cross, a recently retired newsreader, has closed himself off from his wife’s death, and is living in a state of denial. He has become obsessed with exercise and has taken to wearing inappropriately youthful clothes, ‘treading a fine line on the edge of the ridiculous’. While his friends have begun the retreat into old age and a sense of purposelessness (‘You wonder why you would make plans to paint the house or visit the pyramids’), David believes, only half guiltily, that he has never been happier.
Ed, David’s son, is a 32-year-old lawyer who feels defined by his father’s fame and by his own career. His wife, Rosalie, has channelled her disappointment at failing to succeed as a ballerina into a desire for children; Ed seeks comfort from life’s stresses in the arms of