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Mr Prendergast, an elderly Anglo-Irishman, is living out his last years in the decaying splendour of his family mansion. As his mind wanders through the gloom he finds it peopled with memories of his neglected wife, his pale shadow of a father, his icily glamorous mother and Alexander, the son she so jealously loved, killed in the First World War.
With only his ill-tempered alcoholic gardener left to attend to him, Mr Prendergast is content to pass his days in such ghostly company. Until young Diarmid arrives, keen-eyed and carrot-haired, to disperse the gathering darkness with curiosity, and the promise of friendship.

Reviews

Jennifer Johnston has written a beauty...full of sharp truth
Daily Telegraph
Elegantly written... it is a tragic story with a merciful ending... Jennifer Johnston knows her Ireland as well as she knows human nature
Irish Times
I greatly enjoyed and admired The Captains and the Kings
Kingsley Amis, Observer
Assured and skillful
The Sunday Times
Formidably well done
Guardian