Nadine Gordimer paints a complex portrait of dangerously deluded and wilfully ignorant privilege, set in South Africa during the time of apartheid.
Mehring is rich, with all the privileges and possessions that South Africa has to offer. But his possessions refuse to remain objects. His wife, son, and mistress leave him; his foreman and workers become increasingly indifferent to his stewardship; even the land rises up, as drought, then flood, destroy his farm. The upheaval in his world increasingly resembles that in the country as a whole, and it becomes clear that only a seismic shift in ideas and concrete action can avert annihilation