Rose Pendlebury, a hypersensitive seventy year old woman, who makes snap judgments about people. Usually not favourable ones. She's very critical of all her newer younger neighbours in Rawlinson Road. Rose is tied to a code of ultra-polite behaviour, which ensures she has no friends. Her husband Stanley, is always going to do things tomorrow, consequently nothing ever gets done. Stanley is gregarious, lazy in the home and health obsessed, (mostly by piles and bowels). Alice Oram moves into the house next to the Pendlebury's. She has a child Amy, who takes to Rose, who gradually through her contact with Amy and Alice, becomes more outgoing. Alice thinks she understands Rose. However, Rose is a deeply insecure woman, with occasional violent mood swings.
Although Rose can be irascible and difficult, her problem lies in her past. Stanley for all he is dilatory, mostly knows how to pacify Rose. Over time her friendship with Alice is tested. Alice begins to weary of Rose and her complexities. There is humour in this story, Rose and Stanley's relationship is one of many compromises. It's the extent of their more ridiculous compromises, which bring hilarity. Is Rose a character one could feel sympathy for? Indeed, she is. If I tell you why, I would be giving away the core plot. When Rose and Alice are both disillusioned, ultimately it's Stanley who comes up trumps. For relationship novels with depth, Margaret Forster is one who reigns supreme.