In the week which preceded the outbreak of the Second World War - days of surmise and apprehension which cannot, without irony, be called the last days of peace - and on the Sunday morning when all doubts were finally resolved and misconceptions corrected, three rich women thought first and mainly of Basil Seal. They were his sister, his mother and his mistress.
Where are we?
London during The Phoney War of 1939-40.
Last seen in Black Mischief, ungentlemanly socialite Basil Seal ("he rejoiced, always, in the spectacle of women at a disadvantage...") still maintains his distance from gainful employment and marriage. Against a background of military preparation and war's permeation into every aspect of life - where aesthete Ambrose Silk's efforts to maintain artistic standards with his magazine Ivory Tower are misinterpreted as the machinations of a Nazi propagandist - Basil seeks fresh opportunities to exploit the well-meaning and respond to the spirit of the times.