Felix has a bit of odd life with Miss Bohun. She's rather eccentric and heavily involved with some sort of evangelical church group called the Ever-Readies. She seems to charge Felix rather an awful lot of money for his expenses, yet she doesn't want him to turn on the heat in his room and they seem to exist on mashed beans. The other residents are a Polish widow and her son, who claims to be a count, and an aging artist living in the attic. Felix's favorite companion is a beautiful Siamese cat named Faro, his only source of love and affection.
Felix's days seem rather dreary until a new boarder, a young, beautiful widow named Mrs. Ellis moves in. She's rather glamorous and Miss Bohun had expected her to be a new companion until it becomes quite obvious that their personalities will never mesh and the whole dynamic is shaken. Felix becomes more and more attached to Mrs. Ellis and finally things come to a head between all the characters.
It's a short book, just under 200 pages, but Manning really creates vivid and realistic characters and I found myself really invested in them -- I wanted to throttle Miss Bohun and cook Felix a good meal, among other things. And the ending left me gobsmacked. I finished it and just sat there thinking about it. It was just brilliant.
I'm also counting this as my 20th Century Classic for the Back to the Classics Challenge.