Frank Prettyman, owner and CEO of Celtic Literary Enterprises, is drowned attempting to locate C.D. Moreclay, a pig-farmer and the author of “The Party at the End of Time”, an unsolicited manuscript that both he and Frank are convinced is a masterpiece.
Celtic has traditionally, and profitably, specialised in the publication of peninsula romantic novels and Cornish poetry in translation. “The Party” is a radical departure from this tradition and there is opposition from within.
Following her husband’s death Olivia Prettyman takes over and, in deference to his wishes, proceeds with publication. The book is an international sensation but one of its features is the prediction that the cosmos will come to an end on a specified date.
Olivia suggests that the appropriate response is to hold a party. To her consternation it is decided that the obvious venue is “The Old Mill”, her house and paddock set in an idyllic Devon valley. She feels compelled to agree.
Her new-found friend and ally, Ellie, sets to work on the invitations that, given Moreclay’s associates, include members of the National Farmers’ Union (Pig) Branch, in addition Cornish Wailers, poets, romantic lady novelists, members of her daughter’s cycle racing team and any number of little old ladies.
Chaos ensues as characters from the Prettyman son, Henry’s, past invade the scene. Olivia despairs as, mounted on one of her magnificent horses, she observes the arrival of first a boatload of Vikings followed, to the delight of the feisty little old ladies, by pirates.
But it has rained for forty days and nights and high above the valley the holding tank in which Moreclay stores his pig-slurry splits its seams. Surfers gather to take advantage of the mother of all waves as it sweeps down carrying all before it and out to sea.