Claudia Hampton, aged seventy-six and dying of cancer, wants to write a history of the world. And, in a curious way, she does.
Claudia is an extraordinary woman. During the course of the book we see her through many different pairs of eyes – her brother Gordon’s, his silly wife Sylvia’s, her lover Jasper’s and of course her own. And every time we think we are drawing closer to her, she succeeds in sidestepping us once again.
Brought up with her brother in the approved middle-class way by a widowed mother, we are shown Claudia as a child already obsessed with history, fighting with Gordon for possession of a fossil, querying the traditional history she is taught and receiving a fail for her pains. She is a