Ms. Byrne writes that she "set out to write this book because I believed that Evelyn Waugh has been persistently misrepresented as a snob and a curmudgeonly misanthropist. I did not recognise Waugh in the popular caricature of him. I wanted to get to the real Waugh. ... In searching for the answers ... I kept coming back to his relationship with a single family: the Lygons of Madresfield. I came to the conclusion that his inner feelings about them provided a key that could unlock the door into Waugh's inner world."