In the spring of 1946, ex-corporal Samuel Richardson returns home from Burma to Wigton in Cumbria, to the relief of his young wife, Ellen. He finds a town in which little has changed. Sam, however, has changed: the war has left him with traumatic memories. And there's 6-year-old Joe, a baby when Sam volunteered, who can scarcely remember his father. As all three strive to adjust, the bonds of love and loyalty become stretched to breaking point.
Continuing the story of Joe from A Son of War, this is the story of the rapid changes in his life from working-class Wigton to the rarified atmosphere of Oxford as he begins his studies there.
A passionate but ultimately tragic love affair starts when two students - one French, one English - meet at university at the beginning of the sixties. From its tentative, unpromising early stages, the relationship develops into a life-changing one, whose profound impact continues to reverberate forty years later.