Shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel AwardCecilia Banks has a great deal on her plate.
But when her son Ian turns up on her doostep with the unexpected consequence of a brief fling, she feels she has no choice but to take the baby into her life.
Cephas's arrival is the latest of many challenges Cecilia has to face.
There is the matter of her cancer, for a start, an illness shared with her novelist friend Helen.
Then there is Helen herself, whose observations of Cecilia's family life reveal a somewhat ambivalent attitude to motherhood.
Meanwhile Tim, Cecilia's husband, is taking self-effacement to extremes, and Ian, unless he gets on with it, will throw away his best chance at happiness. Cecilia, however, does not have to manage alone. In a convent in Hastings sits Sister Diana Clegg who holds the ties that bind everyone not only to each other, but to strangers as yet unmet.
As events unfold and as the truth about Cephas is revealed, we are invited to look closely at madness, guilt, mortal dread and the gift of resilience.
No one will remain unchanged. 'Frank, courageous and entertaining. I felt better for reading it' Margaret Drabble