Laura is content enough with her marriage, her two children and her part-time job - until an ex-lover whom she had thought was 'the one' gets in touch out of the blue. Suddenly passion and excitement are rekindled, and she realises how stagnant her life has become. But how much happiness has she a right to expect, and what of the pain she might cause to achieve it?
Unknown to Laura, many others in her Sussex village are living with their own unresolved inner dramas. None of them guesses at her crisis. Yet every decision they take has an impact on those around them. The hidden longings of a large cast of characters interweave in a gripping plot that reveals ordinary life at its richest: comic and tragic, poignant and cruel, surprising and moving.
Piercing insights into married life and smalltown living distinguish Nicholson's thoughtful if quiet latest. Laura Broad, a married mother of two, has her domestic agenda seriously disrupted when she receives a surprise letter from Nick, her first love who broke her heart when they were young. His proposed visit to Laura's small Sussex town has her pondering a series of "what-ifs" and replaying the course of their passionate but short-lived love affair in largely unnecessary flashbacks. But Laura is not the only one with a secret life of the mind; her neighbors and acquaintances including her son's teacher, the mother of one of his classmates, a little old lady and her beloved dog, and Laura's own husband also carry their own hidden agendas and desires. A YA novelist and Academy Award nominated screenwriter, Nicholson (The Wind Seeker) has a knack for crystallizing his themes in pivotal moments and deserves credit for not clouting the reader over the head with his affirmative message about the viability of two rapidly fading institutions: long-term marriage and English country life.