Alex and Clare have gone to spend the weekend at Henry and Vic's house in the Kent countryside. 'Perhaps nothing would have happened if they hadn't played croquet on the Saturday afternoon,' Clare thinks later. 'Fucking croquet.' Alex, a well-paid young lawyer, plays the ball by Henry's rules, as he has since they met at university ten years previously. Clare is a restless book editor and co-conspirator alongside Alex and Henry from the start, the three of them staying up until dawn, conversation never slacking. Henry, once elusive, now has perfectly proportioned, perfectly composed Victoria firmly by his side and his eye on the horizon of the digital economy.
As their relationships unravel and re-entwine over the years that follow, Jones's characters replay a kind of perpetual montage in their minds, trying to fit their younger selves into the adult frameworks they've inherited. The conflicting demands of marriage - of friendship, sex and parenting - require they be at once friend and lover, parent and child, susceptible to love but protective of the rules they have chosen to play by.
Knowing and innocent, shrewd and compassionate, this is a funny, felt debut novel shot through with brilliant dialogue.