At the age of twenty-nine, Sydney has already been once divorced and once widowed. Trying to find her footing again, she has answered an advertisement to tutor the teenage daughter of a well-to-do couple as they spend a sultry summer in their oceanfront New Hampshire cottage.
But when the Edwards' two grown sons, Ben and Jeff, arrive at the beach house, Sydney finds herself caught up in a destructive web of old tensions and bitter divisions. As the brothers vie for her affections, the fragile existence Sydney has rebuilt is threatened.
With the subtle wit, lyrical language, and brilliant insight into real emotion that has led her to be called 'a supremely elegant anatomist of the human heart' (The Times), Shreve weaves a story about risk, family, and the supreme courage that it takes to love.