Mr. Phillips wakes on a summer's Monday morning in his modest, nearly mortgage-free house, in the bed he has contentedly shared with his wife of almost thirty years, ready to face another ordinary working day.
Except that this day is not ordinary, for on the previous Friday, Mr. Phillips was summarily fired. Through no fault of his own, Mr. Philips has suddenly found his whole life cast into doubt.
Unable to deal with this disaster -- unable to even tell his wife -- Mr. Phillips rises at his usual hour and prepares himself, as he had done his entire working life, for the job he no longer has. Dressed for work with no work to do, he wanders the streets of London, seeing the world as if for the first time, and what he sees triggers memories. Some are improbably funny, some deeply affecting, and all gradually build a portrait of a decent man who only days before knew exactly who he was -- husband, home owner, father, valued employee -- and on on this day wonders what he can become.
With his eye for the telling detail, his ear for the commonplace speech that make each of us who we are, John Lanchester has created both a jewel of a novel and an Everyman for our times.