The English village is a place where people come to lick their wounds. Dorothy has walked away from a bad thirty-year marriage, an affair gone sour, and a dangerous obsession. Unable to cope with the change from the civility of life as a teacher in a grammar school to the democratic brutishness of a comprehensive, she has taken early retirement. Between her visits to the doctor and the music lessons she gives to bored teenagers, she is trying to rebuild a life.
Her neighbour seems concerned to conceal his past behind a façade of impeccable manners. It's not immediately clear why Solomon is living in the village, but his African origin suggests a complex history that is at odds with his dull routine of washing the car and making short trips to the local supermarket. Though all he has in common with the English is a shared language, it soon becomes clear that Solomon hopes that his new country will provide him with a safe haven in which he might enjoy the decent behaviour and graciousness that he believes the English habitually practice. Gradually Solomon and Dorothy establish a form of comfort in each other's presence that alleviates the isolation they both feel.
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