Barbara Pym gives us glimpses into the lives of four people - two men and two women, working together in an office, all approaching retirement, each living a solitary life. By constantly shifting points of view, she gives us insights into their own thoughts and feelings as well as those of the people they interact with - either each other or people the come into contact in their everyday lives. She shows us how our look at people is tinged with our personal expectations, how our own sense of guilt or inadequacy triggers resentment or ridicule. But also the mechanisms by which we deal with our own solitude. It is a clear eyed, yet compassionate view at humanity. Though the cast could make for a rather trist read, there is acceptance and subtle humor in this gentle tale.