Miranda Meadowe decides a lonely widowhood in her crumbling country house is not for her. Reviving a university dream, she invites five of her oldest friends to come and join her to live, and to stave off the prospect of old age. All have their own reasons for accepting.
To begin with, omens are good. They laugh, dance, drink and behave badly, as they cling to the heritage they thought was theirs for ever: power, health, stability. They are the baby boomers; the world is theirs to change. But as old attractions resurface alongside new tensions, they discover that the clock can’t be put back.
When building work reveals an Iron Age burial site of a tribal queen, the outside world descends on their idyllic retreat, and the isolation of the group is breached. Now the past is revealed; and the future that beckons is very different from the one they imagined.
The unexpected arrival of her willful teenage granddaughter, Ruby, brings life and disorder to 82-year-old Iris Black's old house in Cairo. Ruby, driven by her fraught relationship with her own mother to run away from England, is seeking refuge with the grandmother she hasn't seen for years.
An unlikely bond develops between them, as Ruby helps Iris to record her fading memories of the glittering, cosmopolitan Cairo of World War II, and of her one true love--the enigmatic Captain Xan Molyneux--whom she lost to the ravages of conflict.
This long-ago love has shaped Iris's life, and, as becomes increasingly apparent, those of her daughter and her granddaughter. And it is to affect them all, again, in ways they could not have imagined.