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The Bawtry family has been in South Yorkshire for generations when Bessie is born just before the turn of the last century. The Bawtrys have been content with their humble lot, but Bessie longs for the freedom promised by a new beginning. However, when she succeeds in being admitted to Cambridge and ascends to a new world of culture and rarified comforts, the tug of her family's history remains, binding her to the past in ways she doesn't entirely understand. Nearly a century later, Faro Gaulden finds her way back to the little mining town where her mother and her grandmother Bessie grew up. But for all Faro's exotic ancestry and glamour, she wonders if she has really travelled away from home, and finds herself asking how is it that unforeseen events and encounters can alter forever what would seem to have been determined. Abounding with lively characters, sadness, and subversive wit, this is Margaret Drabble at her storytelling best.