At 22, Justin is obviously suffering from severe depression, not washing, walking about naked, and spending most of his time in bed eating sweets. Vanessa cannot do anything with him and frankly, she doesn't have time, so when Justin says one day, out of the blue "I want Mary"; it takes a while before she realises what he means. She can't do anything with him, but his former nanny might be able to. So she pays for Mary to come back to England to see if she can rouse Justin from his stupor. She really doesn't understand depression, and as he has an MA he should really pull himself together and get a good job.
So Mary arrives, and the culture clash begins.
Maggie Gee went to Uganda after receiving a commission from the Cheltenham Literary Festival, and then a grant from the Society of Authors helped with further African travel. At the beginning of the book there is a half page of thanks, well worth reading. She has given Mary her own voice, and although I have never been to Uganda, and am unlikely to do so, I quickly understood that like every country, it has its own sense of humour, sense of irony, and way of behaving. I loved Mary, ploughing on regardless because it was important to get Justin better, save the money she was paid by Vanessa for doing so, and get back to Uganda to a nice life with her lover Charles. There is sadness in everyone's life, Mary has been divorced by her Muslim husband, she has lost her own son, probably. Vanessa's background is a closed book, for when she left her own village, she left everyone in it behind too.
Mary can be naughty, Vanessa can be spiteful, Jason is a big baby. But there are reasons for all of this, and as the story progresses, secrets are revealed and questions answered. Mary's voice is wonderful. Vanessa wants a good slap, and Jason? Well..... there is a reason for Jason's depression. All will be revealed as you read on.