Thomas C Squire, founder of the Society for Popular Aesthetics, one-time secret agent and successful hedonist faces a midlife crisis. That undermines the stability of his ancestral home in Norfolk. Following the creation of his TV documentary series, FRANKENSTEIN AMONG THE ARTS, Squire attends a conference of academics in Sicily. There, against a background of international rivalry, he becomes involved with the lovely if calculating Selina and the Russian Vasily. In counterpoint to the drama of the conference runs the story of Squire's private life: the horrifying circumstances of his father's death; his many affairs with women; and his fifteen-month separation from his wife. This brilliant novel, sometimes violent and always compassionate, moves from England to Sicily, from Singapore to the former Yugoslavia. LIFE IN THE WEST embodies the best characteristics of Brian Aldiss's writing: wit, human understanding, a fine turn of phrase and consummate storytelling.