After an expensive dinner on their thirteenth wedding anniversary, James calmly announces that he wishes to leave Bridie. A cherished adopted child, she stepped into marriage - and a pet name - at the age of nineteen and has nurtured two step-children and a daughter. The habit of protecting others is strong is Bridie but now, redundant and with her happiness turned into a charade, she is uncertain of her identity. Unless she reclaims a portion of her past, Bridie fears she will have no future. The mysteries and consequences of Bridie's adoption form the bedrock of this enticing and skilfully woven novel. Here, with her characteristic wit and acuity, Nina Bawden peers into the familiar passions of family life, remembered insults, ancient scars and old deceptions.