When Geoff Pollard, epitome of middle class middle England, is entrapped by ex-pupil Catherine Hosker into an affair through which she enacts her revenge on society, both he and his family are precipitated into a series of bizarre events.
Eleanor, his beautiful but unstable wife vows revenge, but thanks to her HRT, a holiday in France and the advent of new friends loses interest in wreaking the havoc she has vowed.
Their three talented offspring reap unexpected good fortune in the face of family financial ruin, and although they hover on the brink of disaster, there is always someone around to avert catastrophe.
Best of all is the great boost to the family morale coming from Jake, the attractive ex-boyfriend of Jo, who has come to lodge with the Pollards. Jake is not only entertaining but helpful, decorative and generally adored by Eleanor, Andrew, and Anitra. He is the answer to a family prayer; a lodger who contributes not only financially but personally. However, Jake's personal contributions turn out to be very personal indeed, and while the family negotiates its way through a minefield of crises, Jake leaves his mark on them all in his own exceedingly charming fashion.
As skeletons are bundled into cupboards, and Eleanor takes refuge in histrionic unconventionality, Geoff is gradually diminished by despair, only to find some path to redemption as a result of Jake's opportunistic behaviour.
When Eleanor takes stock of their plight and concludes, "In the History of Evolution, this sort of situation ranks way down the spectrum as a cosmic joke." she utters the only understatement of her dramatic role in this turbulent family.