As told by Christopher Metcalfe in alternating chapters "now", in his forties, and "then", as a fifth former at public school, we learn what has made Christopher what he is, and eventually what he could become. "Now" he is a seemingly comfortable bachelor, but following the death of his father, and the subsequent discovering a box of photographs and reports from his school days he is awakened to a past that has made him what he is. "Then" a good looking fifth former himself, he is seduced by a handsome prefect two years his senior, Stephen Walker. There follows a brief, intense but spasmodic affair, which is so beautifully related that it is hard to find any fault with the relationship, despite the guilt that they feel, and they declare their love for one another. But the affair ends tragically when Stephen moves on to Cambridge and Christopher, or Kit as Stephen affectionately calls him, is left to endure his reaming years at school alone. "Now" Christopher realises what this affair and a subsequent promise to himself has cost him, and he sets out to find Stephen and discover what has become of the only person he has ever loved.
The story is beautifully told, and the various characters are a delight, including Christopher's horrendous sister and her family, his adoring and surprisingly open minded mother, and his man chasing friend Catherine, with whom he enjoys a close platonic relationship.
This is a witty, warm and very moving story, which I thoroughly enjoyed.