Bobby Clarke arrives at a hotel on the Mediterranean shore. He is a former MP, unseated by the expenses scandal, who is now spending time abroad to recover from a major illness. The other purpose of his stay is to write his memoirs in order to demonstrate that he was unfairly pilloried for 'a minor accounting error', having valiantly served his country for 30 years. He settles into his new surroundings but soon it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. For a start Bobby seems to have no memory of the immediate past. Each time he sits down to continue his memoirs he finds only a blank page. Every morning as he comes downstairs the same scene replays itself in front of him: a young woman and her son pass him on the stairs. And what has become of his wife?
This middle-aged man is also in mourning - for his wife, Vera, who has died in mysterious circumstances. Before Lucy can collect herself, Mr Wemyss has taken charge: of the funeral arrangements, of her kind Aunt Dot, but most of all of Lucy herself, body and soul. Elizabeth von Arnim's masterpiece, VERA is a forceful study of the power of men in marriage - and the weakness of women in love.
'Many poets make us smile; how many poets make us laugh - or, in that curious phrase, "laugh out loud" (as if there's another way of doing it)? Who else uses an essentially conversational idiom to achieve such a variety of emotional effects? Who else takes us, and takes us so often, from sunlit levity to mellifluous gloom?... Larkin, often, is more than memorable: he is instantly unforgettable.' - Martin Amis
The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and mane;
Then one crops grass, and moves about
- The other seeming to look on -
And stands anonymous again.
from 'At Grass'