It is a summer's day in 1946. The English village of Wealding is no longer troubled by distant sirens, yet the rustling coils of barbed wire are a reminder that something, some quality of life, has evaporated.
Together again after years of separation, Laura and Stephen Marshall and their daughter Victoria are forced to manage without 'those anonymous caps and aprons who lived out of sight and pulled the strings'.
Their rambling garden refuses to be tamed, the house seems perceptibly to crumble.
But alone on a hillside, as evening falls, Laura comes to see what it would have meant if the war had been lost, and looks to the future with a new hope and optimism. First published in 1947, this subtle, finely wrought novel presents a memorable portrait of the aftermath of war, its effect upon a marriage, charting, too, a gradual but significant change in the nature of English middle-class life.