"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy". This is the diary of Cassandra Mortmain, which tells of her extraordinary family and their crumbling castle home.
Cassandra's father was once a famous writer, but now he mainly reads detective novels while his family slide into genteel poverty. Her sister Rose is bored and beautiful, and desperate to marry riches. Their step-mother Topaz has habit of striding through the countryside wearing only her wellington boots.
But all their lives will be soon be transformed by the arrival of new neighbours from America, and Cassandra finds herself falling in love...