Doting begins and ends with a dinner given for seventeen-year-old Peter Middleton by his parents, Arthur and Diana. Annabel Paynton, a young woman of nineteen, attends both dinners; at the second the four are joined by Charles Addinsell, a family friend, and Claire Belaine, a friend of Annabel. In the short time between these two dinners Green unfolds a series of intermeshing and largely unsuccessful relationships. Arthur Middleton courts Annabel, his wife takes up with Charles Addinsell, Charles and Claire embark on an affair. Peter is injured in a car crash on his way to Scotland, where his parents had hoped he would be out of the way while they pursue their own affairs. In relating these botched and timorous affairs, and in presenting the relationship between Peter and his parents, Green examines, with his usual mordant wit and original style, the deceptive differences between doting and loving.