A compelling vision of a disorietating and barbaric future from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Many years in the future, city life has broken down, communications have failed and food supplies are dwindling. From her window a middle-aged woman - our narrator - watches things fall apart and records what she witnesses: hordes of people migrating to the countryside, gangs of children roaming the streets. One day, a young girl, Emily, is brought to her house by a stranger and left in her care. A strange, precocious adolescent, drawn to the tribal streetlife and its barbaric rituals, she is unafraid of the harsh world outside, while our narrator retreats into her hidden world where reality fades and the past is revisited ...