The Alldens live in a ramshackle house in suburban Bath. Don and Emily have four children: confident Liz, satirical Clive, shy Lotte, and Benjamin, the late arrival. Together they take the usual knocks, go to work, go abroad, go to university, go to pieces. Don and Emily stick it out, their strong marriage tested by experience and frustrated by love for Clive, the ardent boxing fan at odds with himself, their special child.
But then ordinary is special, too, as the Alldens will discover thirty years later when Emily falls ill and her children come home to say goodbye. Their unforgettable story is an intimate record of survival that is clear-eyed, funny and deeply moving.