1969. Thomas Speake comes to London to look for his father but finds Sanderson instead, a larger-than-life TV presenter who hosts 'midweek madness' parties where the punch is spiked with acid. There Speake meets Marnie and promises to help her find her adoptive child, who has been taken by her birth mother to live off-grid in a hippie commune in the Lake District.
Forced to lie low after a violent accident, Speake joins Sanderson on a tour of the Lake District, where he's researching a book to accompany his popular TV series, Sanderson's Isle. Fascinated by local rumours about the hippies, Sanderson joins the search for their whereabouts. Amid the fierce beauty of the mountains, the cult is forming the kind of community that Speake – a drifter who belongs nowhere – is desperate to find but has been sent to betray.
This is the follow up to James Clarke's Betty Trask Prize-winning debut novel. It is filled with gorgeous nature writing of the urban and the rural, and its portrayal of the moment when British society was unsettled and transformed by the counterculture of the 1960s is visionary and electrifying.