Bombed out of her London flat, Miss Roach, thirty-nine and alone, takes up residence at the Rosamund Tea Rooms at Thames Lockdon. Here we encounter an array of lost, rootless, lonely people, the flotsam and jetsam of the War - the slaves of solitude.
The story unfolds through the eyes of the shy, self-effacing Miss Roach, a woman whose natural decency stands in stark contrast to the casual cruelty of the people around her; her fragile sense of self-worth, constantly undermined by her back-stabbing friend, the odious Vicki Kugelmann, the drunken ineptitude of her American lover, Lieutenant Pike, but most of all, her humiliation at the hands of one of Hamilton's most grotesque fictional monsters, the repellent Mr Thwaites - bully, narcissist, and Fascist sympathiser.
Despite the apparent tragedy of Miss Roach's situation, the pathos is relieved by Hamilton's unique black humour and his ability to write perfect, utterly convincing dialogue, infused with waspish comedy. Ever-present is the War itself, robbing the characters of their little comforts, dictating their everyday lives. An underrated, enjoyable, entertaining read. Great to see this wartime classic back in print again!
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