The Major is recovering from shell shock after fighting in World War I. During the war, he gets engaged (or does he?) to Angela, an English woman living in Ireland. The Major goes to see his fiancee and finds himself in a strange world. Angela's father owns a large run-down hotel. At the same time, the Irish are trying to win independence from the British. The dirty, dilapidated hotel is gradually falling down around everyone's ears. It represents the tenuous hold the British have on Ireland. Although there is much humor in the book, it doesn't seem to have an effect on the reader as the feeling of horror increases to the end of the book.