At first Maureen was convinced Harold would come back. He would phone, and he would be cold and tired, and she would have to go and fetch him, and it would be the middle of the night, and she would have to put a coat on over her nightdress and find her driving shoes; and all this would be Harold's fault. She had slept fitfully with the lamp on and the phone beside the bed, but he had neither rung nor come home.
She kept going over all that had happened. The breakfast and the pink letter, and Harold not speaking, only weeping in silence. The smallest detail lurked in her mind. The way he had folded his reply twice and slipped it in the envelope before she could see. Even when she tried to think about something else, or nothing at all, she couldn't stop the picture swimming into her head of Harold staring at Queenie's letter, as if something deep inside him was undoing...
It is sad at times but also a very humorous book:
'Deploying meticulously precise and deceptively light-as-air prose, Joyce takes Harold across the bitter wastelands of regret to the sunlit uplands of emotional redemption with a clarity that is at times almost unbearably moving' - Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times