The twins' unorthodox childhood - as evacuee babies in Cornwall, at boarding school, then living with their Aunt Maggie - made them grow up self-sufficient. Miranda was the vibrant, flamboyant one. Meg was quieter, more self-effacing. As they grew up, the bond between them held - until Meg went back to Cornwall and fell in love. Their lives shifted, but the link was still there, in spite of all that was to happen.
Three women came to the remote Cornish cottage that summer: Jenna, only 26 and grieving for the loss of the love of her life; her mother Caro, whose husband Steve had also died; and Laura, who had been married to Caro's beloved brother Geoff. The house where they were staying was called The Widow's Cottage, and it was poignantly suitable.
The quarrel had begun many years before - in 1850 on a West Indian sugar plantation - but although Charles Martinez and Hanover Rudolph had been dead a long time, the resentment and grudges of that old enmity still separated the two most important families in Bristol. The Rudolphs and the Martinez disliked each other intensely - until the Michaelmas Ball of 1927. There, Jack Martinez, handsome roué and gambler, danced with spoilt, precocious Maude Rudolph and a spark was kindled.
When Rose was four the scandal broke about her head. She was really too young to understand what was happening - only that her mother was in disgrace and that they were returning home to England. The following May, Joanna - Jon' - was born. Rose and Jon were totally different. Jon was vivacious, liked a good time, and always got what she wanted, even when what she wanted happened to belong to Rose.
Judith is suddenly all alone in the world. Her husband, Jack, has left her - why, she doesn't really know. Her two sons are in Australia, and both her mother and her best friend Naomi have recently died. Embarking on a journey to Exmoor to meet the famous artist Robert Haussman, with an oddly assorted group of fellow-enthusiasts, Judith finds herself a prey to all sorts of irrational fears. Chief amongst them is the increasing conviction that Jack is dead. Why did he leave her? Where has he gone? And why does Robert Haussman exert such a strange influence on her?
There were four of the Thorpe family in the Anderson shelter the night of the raid on Coventry. Mum and Dad, Florrie and little May. Jack was missing... he was one of those who did not return from Dunkirk. When Daisy and Marcus, sixth formers in Coventry, are given a project on the bombing of the city in 1940, they go to talk to May, now living in sheltered accommodation but full of memories of the war. The two youngsters both have their problems and as their lives unfold they strike up an unlikely friendship....
Nell knows that she shares a very special past with her cousins, Edmund and Perry. In and around Gloucester they used to play, quarrel and perhaps fall in love a little. When a strange young man arrives in their midst, Nell discovers with a shock that he too shares some of their mysterious past - that old railway coach in the forest where Nell's parents first fell in love. But the forest still holds its secrets, and the uncertainties which Nell and her cousins experience can only be satisfied when the mystery is revealed.
Gussie, Ned, and Jannie are not quite siblings, but they share a fiercely close and affectionate family bond. In their bohemian Cornish home, with a famous and distinguished artist as their father figure, they glory in their unusual upbringing and their unconventional, loving family life....Until one day a terrible tragedy destroys the foundations of that family, and they have to learn to cope on their own.
In 1943, two schoolgirls, Rachel and Meriel, amuse themselves by tracking down imaginary German spies. It all seems a harmless…until their game turns into a frightening reality, the consequences of which affect their whole lives. Rachel becomes a reporter on the local paper while Meriel, a GI bride, goes to live in Florida. But the bonds that hold them together can never be broken, as the secrets and scandals which first surfaced in those far-off wartime days eventually come to light.
When the news of the death of her ex-husband reaches Binnie, it seems that her tranquil life in the West Country must come to an end. He had left her the island in the beautiful archipelago off the coast of Cornwall where he had spent his childhood. Binnie has to take her family to the island, revisiting it for the first time in years, and work out what to do. Leaving behind the mysterious stranger who had turned up in the village only the day before, Binnie has to embark upon a whole new life.
Cornwall, 1960, and a whole new world for young Connie Vickers as she holidays with her brand-new fiance William. But a strange encounter with a beautiful blonde boy on the beach leads to a terrible tragedy, the consequences of which are to affect Connie and William for the rest of their lives.
When Abigail Eliot accepts the job of teacher-in-charge at the village school of Linstowel, she tells herself that sheer hard work in this isolated corner of North Devon will help her to forget that ghastly accident that robbed her of her husband and son. But there is another reason for her return to Linstowel - Daniel Enys, but he has changed. He is embittered, almost violent. And Abigail cannot escape him.
As Lydia Fielding grows up, she finds herself attracted to two men in her Exmoor village: handsome, ambitious Gus Pascoe who wants her father's land; and Wesley Peters, a strict Methodist with a terrible secret. But a scandal between Lydia's family and Wesley's tears the village apart.
Emmie Dart was nearly 40 years old and a servant to old Canon ames when Walter asked her to marry him. He was the Canon's son, younger than she was, and a gentleman - even though a rather dilettante drifter who had really done very little with his life. But Walter had a secret in his past that he asked Emmie to share with him - and she, in turn, told him of her harsh and cruel background that made her feel unworthy to be anyone's wife.
They were just schoolgirls - evacuees - when they first met the Reid brothers. Berry was the one who dazzles them - handsome, funny, sexy, he somehow symbolized that golden summer of the war when they all worked together on the farm. Then their world collapsed around them. Morag, the strongest and quietest of the three girls, lost everything she held dear in one savage bombing. Vallery's beloved brother was killed in the desert war, and Jannie - well, Jannie had never had much to start with anyway.
There was a new generation of Risings, but in the children were reflected the problems and anguish of March, April and May - the Daffodil Girls. Every time March looked at her son, Albert, she was reminded of her beloved brother, killed at Mons. April had Flo and eight-year-old Davinia, who knew that Flo was her mother's favourite child, but would never know why. May had funny, clever, ebullient Victor, whom she didn't understand - any more than she understood her roving husband.
It is 1951, and the train from Bristol to Paddington is preparing to leave. Albert, the driver, whose father and grandfather before him worked on the railway, says goodbye to his wife with mixed feelings. Jenny, clumsy but loveable, longs to make a success of her job in the restaurant car, where she attracts the interest of Marvin, the steward. The passengers - some regulars on the line, others making a rare visit to London - settle down for the journey. But as they near their destination, disaster strike.
For Alice, living near Gloucester in the late 1940s, leaving school and taking a job as a railway secretary in the city made perfect sense. Her family had long been 'railway servants' and her best friend's father would be working closely with her. What Alice had not expected was that she would fall in love.
Viv's marriage to David was not a conventional one, but when he died - in an accident for which she blamed herself - it was as if her whole world had collapsed around her. She escaped by running, mainly around the nearby lake, which was once a popular place of recreation but was now desolate and deserted. It became both her refuge and her dread.
Liz McGregor, struggling to bring up her eight-year-old daughter alone, is surprised when her boss asks her to marry him. It is an unromantic proposal, but Liz, beset with difficulties, is tempted to accept it. Then Felix suggests a honeymoon cruise in the Adriatic and Liz's fears are swept away. After eight empty years she is loved - and in love - again. But the past catches up with her and before England's shores are out of sight she is embroiled again with the man who ruined her life before.