Set in England, these are stories that explore the basic nature of friendship: how friendships are formed and deepended, how they can be betrayed and lost. Among these characters, there are friendships between married couples, sisters, women, grandparents and grandchildren, and among youngsters. Throughout, these friendships are tested, coming up against outside forces and internal conflicts that alter or destroy them. A dying woman recalls her sexual awakening and the several betrayals that followed, though she is no longer able to speak words of truth to her betrayers; a young girl loses her closeness to both her twin sister and her imagination as she approaches puberty and becomes physically attractive to a grown-up she trusts; in ""The Outing"" Elsie comes to terms with the death of her husband during a day trip to a stately home with her friend Vera. ""White Sandals"" reveals two seminal episodes in the boyhood of a man grown solitary and misanthropic. Jackson approaches these and other stories with uncompromising social insight and sharp narrative turns, yet the drama is tempered by strong doses of humor and irony. These are quiet stories that creep up on the reader and remain lodged in the mind.