Jamaica 1971, and Sir Noël Coward is in declining health, living out his final years in the sun and heat at his eponymous house in the West Indies. His days are spent, when not trying to cope with the infirmities that his body is frustratingly subject, in rather waspishly dealing with his visitors and the patient and decent Jamaicans who look after him. He still drinks heavily and takes pleasure in rereading the children’s books of E. Nesbit, a favourite of his when he was growing up. But Coward also drifts back to his past, and has nostalgic memories and dreams of times and famous people in London when he was at the height of his considerable fame and he was feted throughout society. It is a London that even in 1971 had long disappeared.
This is a very short but beautifully executed novel. It flits through the mostly disconnected thoughts of Noël Coward as he faces decline and death, but is still able to love his own little memory-laden Caribbean paradise.