Sefton and his sister Clemence are dispatched to separate boarding schools. Their father's second marriage, their mother's economies, provide perfect opportunities for mockery, and home becomes a source of shame. More wretched is their mother's insistence that they excel. Their desperate means to please her incite adult opprobrium, but how dit the children learn to deceive? Here staccato dialogue, brittle aphorisms and an excoriating wit are used to unparalleled and subversive effect ruthlessly to expose the wounds beneath the surface of family life.