The quiet life of schoolmaster Bill Mor and his wife Nan is disturbed when a young woman, Rain Carter, arrives at the school to paint the portrait of the headmaster. Mor, hoping to enter politics, becomes aware of new desires and a different dream of life. A complex battle develops, involving love, guilt, magic, art and political ambition. Mor's teenage children and their mother fight discreetly and ruthlessly against the invader. The Head, himself enchanted, advises Mor to seize the girl and run. The final decision rests with Rain. Can a 'great love' be purchased at too high a price?
"Iris Murdoch is incapable of writing without fascinating and beautiful colour"
"Iris Murdoch was one of the best and most influential writers of the twentieth century"
"Of the novelists who have made their bow since the war she seems to me to be the most remarkable"