"Go back to your guests -- for I know, you see, whence you come; take up your part in the play; be ready with your cues. It's all masks and dominoes; what does the form or color of it matter? Underneath it all, you are yourself -- with your beautiful sorrow, your memories, your transcendent happiness. Nothing can touch that."
Philip Rainham, last in a line of shipbuilders in the decaying and forlorn shipyards of London, has seen little of Eve Sylvester during the past two years. It is with a slight shock that he realizes how completely she has grown up. He remembers her in so many phases of childhood and little girlhood, up to the more recent occasions when he met her riding in the park with her brother -- and she had waved her whip to him, looking slim and pretty, in the trying costume that cruel fashion prescribes for girls who ride.
For Rainham these are puzzling, wearying times -- although matters of interest keep appearing -- such as his new friendships with painters, the talented and brash Lightmark, and the rancorous but somehow magisterial Osywn. And with Lightmark interested in Eve . . . how disturbing some aspects of life are seeming! What are these emotions he is feeling -- and why are they tearing him apart?
The co-author of this remarkable novel of love, betrayal and self-sacrifice, Ernest Dowson (1867-1900), achieved his greatest fame as a poet associated with the Aesthetic Movement in England.