From the Publisher:
Constance Keating has lived a life of exile alienated from her family and from Ireland. Now she has returned home to die. While that process takes place she replays the fragments of her past. And, as the Christmas tree awaits its day, so she also waits, hoping that the outcome will be on her terms.
Jennifer Johnston was born in Ireland. Her father is Denis Johnston, the playwright; her mother is Shelagh Richards, the actress, director, and producer. Born part albino, she requires dark glasses and is thus always photographed wearing them. She was educated at Park House and Trinity College, but she left school, married, and pursued a career in acting. As her first marriage failed, she began writing seriously; her novel "Shadows on Our Skin" was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1977; "The Old Jest" won the 1979 Whitbread Award for fiction. Johnston has four children. Much of her work concerns children coming of age in contemporary Ireland; for years Johnston has lived in Londonderry, which she describes as full of bombs and helicopters. She ascribes much of her inspiration to this politically tense situation, and does not like to leave home.