Famed presidential advisor Stephen Upton has suffered a stroke, and his four very different daughters gather in his perfectly appointed mansion outside Boston to await his death or recovery. Elizabeth, cold and calculating, fights hard for every success and pays a high price; beautiful Mary has always needed a man to support her tastes, but time is catching up with her; Alex can't remember her childhood and wants to know why; and Ronnie, illegitimate and proud, refuses to acknowledge her feelings for the man they all love and hate.
In 1992, Marilyn French was told she had one year to live. A smoker of 48 years she was diagnosed as having cancer of the oesophagus, a cancer which is almost always fatal. Five years on, having battled with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, a heart attack and her back breaking, she is very much alive. And - astonishingly - her body shows no sign of cancer.
After four marriages and numerous affairs, famed author Hermione Beldame doesn't expect real life to play out like her bestselling romance novels. So she's stunned when she meets George Johnson at a party and the Louisville journalist sweeps her off her feet. The handsome, seductive younger man is the epitome of southern charm. Suddenly, Hermione, who never believed in happily-ever-after, is passionately, obsessively in love.
Dolores and Victor are both successful, both Americans living alone in England. They meet and fall instantly in love, only to discover they agree on nothing. From the start they know they have only one year together. Their affair is sometimes bitter, always passionate, and, in the end, an extraordinary revelation for them both.