May, Christine, Heed, Junior, Vida - even L who cooks for them and sees everything - all are women obsessed by Bill Cosey. The wealthy owner of the famous Cosey Hotel and Resort (a glamorous black-only beachside resort that flourished in the post-war years), he's powerful charismatic, monstrous, shadowy, and he shapes the yearnings that dominate the lives of these women long after his death. But even Cosey himself is at the mercy of a troubled past and a spellbinding woman, 'a sporting woman', named Celestial. Christine is his granddaughter, Heed her pretty best friend, an uneducated Up Beach girl from the wrong side of the tracks. The two girls are inseparable until the moment when Cosey picks out Heed, aged only 11, and marries her ('One day we built castles on the beach; the next he sat her in his lap-One day we played jacks; the nest she was fucking my grandfather-. One day this house was mine; next day she owned it.'). Forty years on, the hotel is boarded up and the resort half under water, but Christine and Heed, old women now, bound together by a lifetime of jealousy and pain, are still the Cosey girls, 'as different as honey and soot', when Junior comes walking down the street and into their lives, in her short skirts and high boots and with a look in her eye- This audacious vision from a master storyteller of the nature of love - its appetite, its sublime possession, its dread - is shocking and moving in its profound understanding of love's ambivalence, and of how alive the past can be. It peels back the layers to reflect the different facets of love, shifting from desire through sex, lust, obsession, yearning, and ultimately full circle to the power of a girl's first love that marks her forever. And the only one who sees the whole picture is L (whose full name is revealed only near the end - a word mentioned only once in the whole of this novel), who has more to do with the outcome than anyone knows.