Bradley Pearson, an aging writer suffering from writer's block has decided to go on a holiday to see if that will get him writing again. However, a cascade of visits by friends, relatives and hangers-on conspire to prevent him from leaving. We learn about his relationship with his younger, and now more successful, protege Arnold Baffin, Arnold's wife Rachel and daughter Julian. Complications ensue as Bradley's ex-wife turns up and then his unhappily married sister come to stay. A sort of black hole forms around Bradley, preventing him from getting away to do his writing. Then Bradley and the 20-year old Julian fall in love, elope, and all hell breaks loose. Eventually Bradley does get down to writing, but not in quite the way he was expecting. Quite gripping. I came away from this book with the impression that Murdoch is a seriously powerful writer, a sort of Beethoven of the novel.