A very spritely look at country life in the 18th century. Will young man about town Ned sell his inheritance, the pretty but crumbling Temple of Optimism, or stay and become a gentleman farmer? Will Lady Apreece follow her heart, having fallen for a man ten years younger, or stay in her loveless marriage as society expects? A very luscious book, full of rich, sensuous images, all about love and money.
It was not adultery that she wished to commit but love. But adultery was how the world would see it. Adultery and not love was the word from which people would wring every drop of malicious pleasure of which they were capable: the adultery of a woman. But how could she have love without it? How could she scale the wall of the forbidden garden without cutting herself to ribbons on the spikes of that hateful word?