Dorothy Jones has reached the end of the road—literally. Now in her fifties, she has moved into a tract house in the housing estate of Stoneleigh, which lies a few miles outside the village of Weston, England, where she grew up. Dorothy is lonely, aimless, and emotionally disturbed by the events of her past. The only ray of hope in Dorothy’s life is Solomon, Stoneleigh’s black handyman and night watchman. The pair strikes up a shallow, tentative, yet reassuring friendship.
Born to blue-collar, rigid parents, Dorothy was the only member of her family to attend university. There she studied music and met Bryan, whom she married, but their alliance soon proved loveless. Bryan deserted Dorothy for another woman. Dorothy then conducted a brief affair with a married, Punjabi shop owner named Mahmood, but he soon lost interest in her, as did Geoff Waverley, a married substitute teacher at the school where she taught. She made too many advances toward Waverley, and he accused her of harassment. Siding with Waverley, school authorities forced Dorothy into early retirement.
The narrative shifts from this English setting to the story of Solomon’s past life in an unnamed African nation. As a young man, Gabriel (Solomon’s real name) joined the “liberation army” in a bloody civil war, only to see the troops under his command turn into murderers, pillagers, and rapists. At home, he watched his father, mother, and two sisters savagely murdered....
(The entire section is 489 words.)