'My mother sent you this,' he said. 'Oh?' 'I believe it's some marmalade,' he said. 'From the latest batch.' 'How kind,' said Nicola, opening the bag. 'You haven't told them, then?' 'Told them what?' 'That we're no longer in a shared marmalade situation...' Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this brilliant novel from Madeleine St John, author of The Women in Black, is a comic and tender look at the vicissitudes of love and relationships. Nicola should never have stepped out to buy that pack of cigarettes, because the man she discovers in her living room when she returns is not the adorable, straightforward, devoted Jonathan with whom she has been sharing her life. That Jonathan would never have unilaterally decided that she should, as he abruptly put it, 'move out'. A shocked Nicola packs her bags and sets out bravely on the bumpy course that will take her from the end of an affair to the essence of the thing. This edition of The Essence of the Thing comes with an introduction by Helen Trinca, Madeleine St John's biographer.