Two short stories: a crime writer on a train journey ponders the death of her characters; and a man trawls his girlfriend's apartment looking for hidden fragments which might reveal her deepest secrets.
Two short stories: a recovering alcoholic tries to enjoy some peace an quiet while her daughter is at college; and two young sisters escape their overbearing stepdad for a day and search for their estranged father.
Two short stories: a schoolboy grows tired of his relationship with an aging poet; and a pair of neighbouring schools trade insults but share a cat.
Four short stories: Louisa's old hometown sings its swan song; Hubert and Milly are immortalised on canvas as the embodiments of ennui; a timid grandmother is embarrassed by the friendliness of her local shopkeeper; and impoverished Miss Agnew lives in the rafters of a hotel.
Three short stories: a magical tale about Christmas; a man who loves wasp nests is forced to arrange an extermination; and a retired man finds real happiness with his grandchildren.
Four short stories: a seafaring man has a parrot with an illustrious past; a university lecturer endures a lonely Saturday night; a blind date takes an unexpected turn; and a lady must look after her eight year-old great-great-nephew for two full weeks.
Three short stories: a writer gives a lecture in a provincial town and encounters a figure from his past; two elderly siblings discover their sister's weird secret; and an elderly brother and sister find themselves tormented in turn by loneliness and the desire to be left alone.
Two short stories: a lonely woman is pushed to breaking point by her unkind neighbours; and, at her first husband's funeral, Violet Greene reminisces about their colourful life together.
A new pair of glasses gives a man a different impression of his life, his wife, and even himself.
A married antiques dealer struggles to retain an identity separate from that of her partner.
Two flamboyant men quickly become notorious when they arrive in a sleepy Kent village in 1956.
A receptionist at a doctor's surgery discovers an illicit affair.
A retired man makes a trip to London to visit his cousin and to investigate their shared family history.
Two short stories: an author must judge a short story competition; and a misanthropic recluse compiles an 'index of embarrassment' - a collection covering everything from song lyrics to the human body.
Two short stories: a writer visits a home for retired circus-folk to interview her great-uncle; and two daughters reminisce about a woman who nursed an unrequited love for their mother.
Two short stories: an innocent act of kindness leads to devastating consequences; and a failed pop star pays a visit with revenge on his mind.
A mother attempts to plaster over the cracks in her daughter's adulterous marriage.