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One day, out of the blue, Henry Nagel inherits a sumptuous apartment in St John's Wood. Divine intervention? Or his late father's love nest? Henry doesn't know, but he is glad to escape the North. After nearly sixty years of angry disappointment, Henry's life is about to change.
Not that the ghosts of Henry's past are prepared to disappear without a struggle - his old school-friend and rival Osmond 'Hovis' Belkin, currently enjoying success in Hollywood; his tragic great aunt Marghanita for whom Henry once entertained a dangerous passion; and his father Izzi, upholsterer turned illusionist, fire-eater and origamist, whose shade Henry interrogates relentlessly. But the present clamours as loudly as the past. His dyspeptic neighbour Lachlan wants his sympathy; Lachlan's sloppy red setter, Angus, wants a walk; and Moira, the waitress with the crooked smile and custard hair, seems to want him. Kicking and screaming every inch of the way, Henry realises he might finally be falling in love.