"With the lover everyday life recedes," Roth writes—and exhibiting all his skill as a brilliant observer of human passion, he presents in Deception the tightly enclosed world of adulterous intimacy with a directness that has no equal in American fiction. At the center of Deception are two adulterers in their hiding place. He is a middle-aged American writer named Philip, living in London, and she is an articulate, intelligent, well-educated Englishwoman compromised by a humiliating marriage to which, in her thirties, she is already nervously half-resigned. The book's action consists of conversation—mainly the lovers talking to each other before and after making love. That dialogue—sharp, rich, playful, inquiring, "moving," as Hermione Lee writes, "on a scale of pain from furious bafflement to stoic gaiety"—is nearly all there is to this book, and all there needs to be.