A calamitous accident irrevocably changes one man’s life, in J.M. Coetzee’s unflinching portrayal of suffering and tenderness.
Paul Rayment is on the threshold of a comfortable old age when a cycling accident results in the amputation of a leg. Humiliated, his body truncated, his life circumscribed, he turns away from his friends. He hires a Croatian nurse named Marijana, who tactfully and efficiently ministers to his needs. But his feelings for her, and for her handsome teenage son, are complicated by the sudden arrival on his doorstep of the celebrated Australian novelist Elizabeth Costello.