Seeking solitude, Elizabeth's husband, Henry, has holed up in her sister's Vermont summerhouse to begin writing the book he hopes will transform his life. But Henry is more alone and less isolated than he bargained for: A year earlier his brother-in-law, Fitz, dropped dead in the same house. Fitz's ghost is everywhere, especially so after Henry inadvertently discovers Fitz's intimate life story stored in the Macintosh in the study.
After more than twenty years in London, Kate Flynn has returned to her family home in Wales to care for her aging mother. Having cast off her academic career, she is unmoored, and when she runs into a childhood friend, David Roberts, at a concert, she finds herself falling for him, although she knows she's grasping at anything to fill the sudden emptiness of her life.
For his part, David's marriage isn't as solid as it looks—his wife, Suzie, has begun acting strangely, moving out of their bedroom, neglecting their children, and disappearing for days at a time—and he begins to seek refuge with Kate from the newfound chaos of his life.
David's seventeen-year-old son, Jamie, is also drawn to Kate's eccentricity and her strange, glamorous old house full of books and music and history. As both father and son set about their parallel courtships, Tessa Hadley's intricate, graceful novel explores the tangled web of connections between parents and children, revealing how each generation replays the stories of the one that came before, in new and sometimes startling patterns.
On the day that a 2003 citywide power outage submerges Toronto in darkness, a teenage boy finds a missive of his own: a copy of Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing-World, one of the first science fiction novels ever written. The boy, obsessed with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, interprets the coincidence of finding the book during the blackout as a premonition, and begins looking for proof that the end of the world is near.
A Description of the Blazing World interlaces two narratives in a novel about the city in the new millennium: a crowded space that incubates signs of an apocalypse that never quite materializes. But it is this very threat of imminent danger—that everything could go up in blazes—that drives a reclusive man and a lonely boy to search for their respective revelations.