...wonderful, tragicomic novel... Connolly’s research is immaculate, and the experiences of these ladylike political prisoners are well imagined. She has too much taste to point out that these prisoners, in the fascist state of their dreams, would either have been shot or sent to a concentration camp. In Britain they were locked up, but allowed to keep their fur coats.
The book’s defining feature is its subtle way of showing how Phyllis becomes subsumed into this sinister world. In the words of one of her friends, she is ‘the nicest woman in England’ — unlike Patricia, a snob with ‘a double string of heavy pearls at her throat’, or the dinner-party guest who drunkenly coaxes a pig on to his roof and laughs when it falls off (‘the head had broken right open, like a coconut at a funfair’)...Connolly conveys the pathos of Phyllis’s situation but skilfully leaves us with a reminder that carelessness is not too remote from complicity.