James Tinling, a former cabinet minister, plans a political comeback, although a brash newcomer stands in his way. James has methods of dealing with people who stand up to him but is held back by the secrets in his life. Eric Clifton, world-renowned moon scientist, has secrets too.
He lives hot-bloodedly and is at war with patrician James. Sam Holloway, literary man and moralist, records their year with its sexual intrigues, sudden violence and the overturning of the political norms. What role does the young poet Owen Moody play? And what about brothel madam Lily Maxey? There's James's daughter Charlotte, painting desperately in a shed at the bottom of the garden.
The Scornful Moon deftly recreates the moral and political mood of Wellington in the 1930s. Constantly surprising the reader, it combines drama and suspense with a master writer's exquisite storytelling.