Ed Hartlepool has been living in self-imposed exile for five years, but with a settlement regarding his inheritance looming, he must return to his ancestral seat, Hartlepool Hall. On his return, he discovers that his father has left him, along with the house, a seven million pound tax bill, two massive overdrafts, an 80-year-old butler, and a vast country estate that is creaking at the seams. Not only that, but there is a strange woman in residence at Hartlepool Hall who seems to have made herself very much at home. It turns out that 'Lady Alice' was his father's first mistress and she tells him more about his father than he ever discovered during his life. With the debts mounting, it seems that Ed's only recourse is to turn to his friend Annabel's new boyfriend, a property developer who plans to turn Hartlepool Hall into luxury flats and a golf course. But can Ed save his inheritance without such a drastic move and thereby preserve a way of life that has been in his family for generations? And is Lady Alice really the person she claims to be?
Paul Torday was born in 1946 and read English Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford. He spent the next 30 years working in engineering and in industry, after which he scaled back his business responsibilities to fulfil a long-harboured ambition - to write.
He burst on to the literary scene in 2006 with his first novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, an immediate bestseller that has been sold in 19 countries.
He is married with two sons by a previous marriage and has two stepsons and lives close to the River North Tyne.