Aldous (Gus) Cotton—the asthmatic hero of Ferdinand Mount’s critically acclaimed series A Chronicle of Modern Twilight, including his recent Booker Prize–nominated novel Fairness—has a problem: Its name is Harry, a carouser, an amateur jockey, a compulsive gambler, a charmer with an unfortunate penchant for excess. He also happens to be Gus’s father. Dead set on detaching himself from any paternal and all real-life responsibilities, Harry begins his descent from the heady realm of the racing set—which afforded him the sweet experience of riding Ampersand, the legendary Gold Cup winner, and champagne by the magnum—to an unglamorous but not undramatic existence in a grim world of lice-infected brothels and gambling houses. At the same time, Harry is thrown into the maelstrom of the Second World War, where comedy meets tragedy to ill-fated effect. In all, Harry’s career vibrantly reflects the downward spiral of a once-vigorous nation, and leaves the sometimes amused and frequently appalled Gus trying very hard to love his father.