The Stranger's Child spans a period from before WWI to the early 21st century. All the characters are connected in some way, whether closely or remotely, to the poet Cecil Valance (floruit WWI). Some are lovers, some related, and others merely wish to write his biography or to find out if he was gay. Each section jumps many years from the preceding one (nearly 50 in one instance), and numerous sketchy characters are introduced. Just as you are beginning to understand the main protagonist of that section, you are again whisked 10 years or more into the future, and have to follow the story from another (often new) person's point of view. To add to the confusion, there is no consistency in the use of names: one day it's 'Lady Valance', the next it's 'Louisa'; one minute it's 'Sebby', the next it's 'Stokes'.
One of Valance's ex-lovers describes his poems as 'not much cop'. I'm afraid to say that this book is not much cop either, and I am relieved I only paid 20p for it.