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Synopsis

Into the well-ordered suburban life of the prosperous Harrow family erupt the Lazars – Bohemian, different, casual and untidy – who have just moved in next door. They fascinate Ruth Harrow, the perfect wife and mother, who has become increasingly bored, and also unsettled by hints from her solicitor husband and teenage children that she has not enough on her mind. Even she admits to spending an inordinate amount of time peering out of her window and watching the comings and goings of their new neighbours.

    Eventually a friendship develops between them and it is Antal Lazar who suggests that Ruth might ease her boredom by resuming her university studies interrupted by an early marriage. Soon however she is at odds with her own family who find that her new way of life is a threat to their accustomed routine of an immaculate home and regular lifestyle. But perhaps more of danger is the disruptive influence of Antal Lazar himself, a smooth, charming cosmopolitan, a ladies’ man at odds with the complacent life the Harrows and their circle are used to.

    The novel demonstrates with wit, sympathy and irony the shattering impact of the new neighbours on the conventional Harrows, the conflict between a woman’s duties to her family and her rights to an independent life; above all the effects on them all of an irrational and overwhelming passion.

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