The respectable facade of the Donaldson family in provincial Cheshire through the years following the Second World War is just that - a facade. The parents married for the wrong reasons - he because she was perfect for his needs; she to escape her family, and because there was a child on the way. He has another son, not his wife's; she has a daughter, not her husband's and these two children become very close as they grow up together. When it matters deeply the parents lie to their children: but perhaps they do not know the whole truth themselves. The courses of all their lives are irreparably changed as death and tragedy flow from those lies.