Owen Ithell’s sense of self is rooted in his long, vivid visits to his grandparents’ small farm in the Welsh hills. As an adult he moves away from the country and meets Mel, with whom he has children. He believes he has found happiness. But following a car accident, in which his daughter is killed and he loses a hand, the course of his life is changed for ever. In his despair, he resolves to reconnect with both his past and the natural world.
Ezra and Sheena Pepin live in Blenheim Orchard in North Oxford with their three children: 14-year-old Blaise, entering the stormy world of adolescence; Hector, 11 and precociously clever; and sweet Louie, three years old and the family tyrant. Ezra, a benignly disaffected employee at Isis Water, has abandoned his calling as an anthropologist; Sheena has inadvertently found hers running a travel company. And then change comes knocking at their door, and the Pepin family are never quite the same again.