Molly Fox is an actress, who has lent her Dublin home to her best friend, the playwright who narrates this story. The book tells the story of one midsummer day (which also happens to be Molly's birthday) with the playwright in Molly's spare room trying to write a new play, her twentieth. She discusses her relationship with Molly; her relationship with her family, including her brother Tom who is a priest; her highs and lows; her attitude toward love; and most of all, she discusses playwriting, acting and how people go about doing these as jobs.
It's this bit of the book that I wasn't expecting, and found really stimulating. If you've never thought much before about the process of acting, this is the most superb exploration of the weirdness of standing on a stage, 'being' somebody else, and why someone might end up wanting to do that for a job.
However, the book is also a great read in terms of the characters and the vividness with which it is all portrayed. It's a testament to the writing that you never have any trouble keeping track of the large cast of characters, who are all vividly conjured up. And as one other reviewer said, the house itself is a beautifully portrayed part of the novel, almost a character in itself. Madden's descriptions of Dublin on a hot summer's day are lovely too. A really wonderful summery read, with all the underlying strength and interest you could want from the most serious of books.