Liz Headleand, a native of Northam whose determination took her to Cambridge University and a prosperous career as a psychoanalyst on London’s Harley Street. Divorced from Edgar Lintot and remarried to Charles Headleand, she learns in the novel’s opening scene—a marvelous set piece of a New Year’s Eve party welcoming in the Thatcher 1980’s—that Charles is leaving her for the boring Lady Henrietta Latchett.
Alix Bowen, Liz’s friend from Cambridge, now married to Brian Bowen, a reliable literature teacher, also from Northam. Alix teaches part-time in a reformatory for young women. Her first husband, Sebastian Manning, died not long after their marriage, and their son, Nicholas, inherits his paternal grandmother’s fortune. When Brian loses his job, he and Alix move to Northam and Alix takes over the task of sorting the papers of a local poet who is somewhat famous.
Esther Breuer, who formed a triumvirate of close friends at Cambridge with Liz and Alix. Esther is an art historian who spends much of her time in Italy. Although she has remained unmarried, she has had a long relationship with a married man, an Italian anthropologist who suffers a curious obsession with werewolves. Of the three Cambridge friends, she is the most individualistic, not so much bohemian as self-reliant and inwardly directed.
(The entire section is 560 words.)