Survived WW1 and six surreal years in Paris.
Valentine St. John Vere:
Paul’s friend, a playwright and aesthete.
the American jazz trumpeter Arlen Winter and the avant-garde violinist Sara Paragon.
Val’s glamorous cousin, married to Jarlath Quinn, the legendary painter, occultist and sexual omnivore.
Lord Perceval Damory:
Maggie’s father. Blind and dying, he slips in and out of time, dream and memory as he dictates his memoirs to Paul.
Percy’s sister. A psychic, synaesthete, high adept and gardener.
Lord Francis Damory, Percy’s great-great-grandfather:
not a ghost. Has higher connections and a hidden agenda.
Percy’s son. Shell-shocked, he lives a simple life in a cabin on the estate.
Maggie and Jarlath’s children:
Sylvie, 19. Beautiful, stubborn and temperamental, an artist and a rebel. Alice, almost 14, loves ancient languages and etymology. Roger and Sophie: younger and bossed about.
Richard and Cecily, Percy’s other son and his wife:
In a family of eccentrics, they are the black sheep of convention with a determination to meddle in other people’s affairs.
Their son Michael, about Alice’s age. More dangerous than one might have thought.
The Pymander aka Mr. Pym:
an enigmatic book; the Mind of God.
Paul has abandoned a life of sex, drugs and poetry in Paris. He’s come to London to look for work and for the opening of Val’s play, The Golden Catamite, based on Apuleius’ Golden Ass; the theme of the Isis initiation echoes throughout the story. Paul takes a job as Percy’s secretary at the Damory’s country house. There he finds an old book, The Pymander, and sets out on the path of initiation that it seems to offer. He’s led by people and events on both the inner and outer planes, but his pursuit of knowledge (white magic) is diverted by a passionate affair with Sylvie that turns tragic as he uses his developing powers to compel her love.
As Percy dictates his memoirs, his story of magical initiation among the tribes of the Amazon enters Paul’s consciousness, and we see that Percy, like Paul, seeks and fails, is lost and ultimately redeemed.
Alice too is a seeker after knowledge, though she believes it’s to be found in books. She longs to grow up, but also to remember what happens during her nightly out-of-body adventures, and that ability is fading. When the arrival of her cousin Michael threatens those she loves she learns how to remember and she, like Paul, uses her powers to control and coerce.
The discovery of a secret underground chamber brings all the strands together. Paul is offered the initiation he has sought, but must first confront his deepest fears. Percy dies, and in death, finally understands. Alice grows up, knows loss and sorrow, and joins the initiates in the kitchen garden for a cup of tea.