Years ago, Jane Weatherby had a torrid affair with John Pomfret, the husband of her best friend. Divorces ensued. World War II happened. Prewar partying gave way to postwar austerity, and Jane and John’s now-grown children, Philip and Mary, both as serious and sober as their parents were not, seem earnestly bent on marriage, which John and Jane consider a mistake. The two old lovers conspire against the two young lovers, and nothing turns out quite as expected.
Nothing, like the closely related Doting, is a book that is almost entirely composed in dialogue, since in these late novels nothing so interested Green as how words resist, twist, and expose our intentions; how they fail us, lead us on, make fools of us, and may, in spite of ourselves, even save us, at least for a time. Nothing spills over with the bizarre and delicious comedy and poetry of human incoherence.