Five women meet in a hospital ward in West London. Five strangers from widely differing backgrounds, forced by cramped conditions into passing intimacy that will spark off rivalries as well as set the foundations of enduring friendship.u003cbru003e u003cbru003e Beth, the career cook - popular, successful, at ease with herself and very much her own woman; Vivienne, the jaded socialite, disillusioned with the tawdriness of her glitzy life and fearful for her marriage; sad Catherine with the domineering mother, frightened of the present and forever seeking refuge in a past that never really was; free-wheeling Sally, the wild colonial, with a spirit as unfettered as her morals; and Georgy, the New Yorker, a stranger newly arrived in town with the singular pursuit of love.u003cbru003e u003cbru003e Five apples in a barrel . . . but one of them is bad.