With a brilliant Dickensian introduction, the narrator leads you into the lives of domestic worker Mona, Charles, the elderly man she cares for, and his daughter Dora who employs her. The relationship between the two women starts with good intentions on both sides, but deteriorates as jealousy, envy and passive aggressive behaviour interfere. The affects of their respective pecking orders both in the household and the outside world, of loneliness, and of estrangement from their children damage the small attempts they initially make to form a more sympathetic relationship. Dora's short temper, insecurities and snobbery destroy it altogether.
The descriptions of Deptford and The Thames (a central character in this book as in Tideline) are atmospheric and engaging despite Dora's distaste for them. And it is fascinating that the violence in Hancock's books seems to happen almost by mistake, and is perpetrated by people who are not so different from normal, warped by circumstances we are led to understand.