In 1939, a group of friends come together for a last glorious country house weekend at Summerhill, a beautiful, remote estate on a tidal estuary of the Cornish coast. Summerhill, home to the young Hamilton sisters Madeleine and Georgiana, promises safety and shelter against the looming threat of war and sixteen-year-old Madeleine, who has never left Summerhill after the traumatic memories of witnessing her father’s fatal accident, has been anxiously awaiting her sister’s return from an extended tour of Europe.
Twenty-one year old Georgiana, however, having more or less raised her sister at Summerhill from a young age, has become addicted to the freedom of the ‘outside’ world and, particularly enamoured with her new boyfriend Victor Deverill, to the glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle of her new friends. As the London crowed descends upon the tranquil estate, the once unshakeably close bond between the two sisters begins to show the first cracks, something Madeleine is aware of but powerless to stop, especially she is now harbouring a secret of her own: an injured RAF soldier she has found hiding out in a remote boat shed, who is trying to desert from his post and desperate to make his way to America.
Torn between helping William and protecting Georgiana from what she quickly realises to be a dangerous set-up, Maddy must make some difficult choices, and before the weekend is over, a terrible tragedy will have struck and leave no life unchanged.
Seventy years later, in 2009, Chloe MacAllister, a young photographer living in Plymouth, is hired to work on a project with Madeleine Hamilton, now a famously reclusive children’s book artist still living at Summerhill. Propelled into a suffocating marriage by a troubled past and increasingly burdened by her brother’s severe and longstanding illness, the assignment pushes Chloe outside the perceived safety of her home and into an unexpected friendship with the older woman. But their meeting isn’t coincidental and just as Chloe makes the devastating discovery of her true connection to Madeleine Hamilton, Chloe’s husband Aidan has decided that it’s time to end his wife’s new aspirations for a more independent life of her own…