Celebrated as a novelist of breathtaking historical range and depth, Adam Thorpe is also an accomplished and celebrated writer of short fiction, and the stories collected here show his deftness with character, his enormous versatility of voice. In the title story, an expectant first-time novelist meets the publisher who has asked him to lunch, only to find himself drawn, unwittingly and inexorably, into a terrible personal tragedy. In 'The Concert Interval' Rob, an orchestral tympanist, sees his life crumble over the half-time coffee and sandwiches. In 'Heavy Shopping' a business executive is called in the middle of an important conference in Scotland with the news that his wife has given birth prematurely; his inability to cope with the resulting divided loyalties, and the way he deals with his own passive indecisiveness, reveals the terrifying emotional vacuum in his life. Exquisitely written, these stories breathe life into their characters, exposing their deepest desires, their catastrophic fears, their perilous frailty in the face of the responsibilities they carry; they are the work of one of Britain's most important writers, working at the height of his powers.