One of a genre at the time, the novel is examines the changing nature of English society in the interwar period. The style and subject matter is comparable to the works of Evelyn Waugh, his contemporary, and earlier writers such as P.G.Wodehouse and Jerome K. Jerome. It is also known for its portrayal of traditional village cricket.The novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1933.
Set in 1920s England, the book is written as if a travel memoir by a young Scotsman who had been invalided away from the Western Front, "Donald Cameron," whose father's will forces him to reside in England. There he writes for a series of London newspapers before being commissioned by a Welshman to write a book about the English from the view of a foreigner. Taking to the country and provincial cities, Donald spends his time carrying out research for a book on the English by consorting with journalists and minor poets, attending a country house weekend, serving as private secretary to a Member of Parliament, attending the League of Nations, and playing village cricket. The village cricket match is the most celebrated episode in the novel, and a reason cited for its enduring appeal. A key character is Mr Hodge; a caricature of Sir John Squire (poet and editor of the London Mercury) while the cricket team described in the book's most famous chapter is a representation of Sir John's Cricket Club -- the Invalids -- which survives today.