The married couples in this book have two things in common: a skill in the duplicity that flourishes even in happy marriages, and an invitation to the Farthingoes' ball. In the months preceding the party, we learn something of their double lives: the faces that each one exposes to their spouses and to the world give little hint of their complex and secret tribulations. By the time they arrive at the ball, each clutching his or her different hopes and fears, we have become familiar with their unsmooth paths, and shared many a humorous escapade or private tragedy with Rachel and Thomas, Mary and Bill, Ursula and Martin, Frances and Toby, as well as the alluring R. Cotterman and the only questing bachelor, Ralph. Sophisticated, sympathetic, witty and razor-sharp in its observations of the sub-text of married life, this is a wonderfully accomplished and enjoyable novel which develops totally out of the characters it creates.
Huth is the daughter of the actor Harold Huth. She left school at age 16 in order to paint and to study art in both France and Italy. At 18 she travelled, mostly alone, across the United States before returning to England to work on a variety of newspapers and magazines. She married journalist and travel writer Quentin Crewe and soon became known most for her writing, having written three collections of short stories and eleven novels. She also writes plays for radio, television and stage, and is a well-known freelance journalist, critic and broadcaster. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.