Daniel has reached the dangerous age of forty and has just embarked on his first affair – a source of mingled guilt and ecstasy. His wife, Penny, seems unaware, but, worryingly, his thirteen-year-old stepdaughter has stopped speaking.
He first met Penny and Pippa in Paris – two flame-haired innocents abroad, as seemingly happy-go-lucky as he was conventional and shy. Now, nine years on, Pippa is mute, Penny frustrated, and Daniel himself torn between his mistress and his family.
The pressures slowly build, until at last he agrees to visit a Welsh healer who has set up camp on the site of a derelict lead-mine in one of the remotest parts of Wales. As a child of only seven, Daniel had been sent away to boarding school in Wales and, after the horror of his ‘prison-years’, has vowed never to return there. The grim memories blast back, however, once he sets foot in the camp and, though the healer may be a charlatan and his fellow campers range from the bizarre to the plain batty, he is forced to realize that it is he who is in need of healing as much as Pippa.
In a dramatic climax in which father, daughter and healer are finally reconciled, Daniel exchanges his narrow view of life for one more open to mystery and the numinous, and at last understands the healer’s words about grace ‘breaking and entering’ his soul.
In this, her eleventh novel, Perriam examines disability in its many different guises, and the true meaning of healing; combining such challenging themes with the wit, exuberance and sexual daring which have made her name.