The Chandlers had been making candles in Bolton for 500 years, and had given their name to the village of Chandlers Green. The dynasty, now in decline and ruled by Richard Chandler, is reduced to an unhappy household and a few tenanted properties. But Richard continues to behave as though he were lord of the manor.
When Matthew’s beloved wife Molly died, long before her time, her son Mark grieved as much as anyone. Mark had always been a disappointment to his father – while the family business, a prosperous antiques and junk shop in Manchester, gradually went into decline during Molly’s illness, Mark was more often out stealing than helping out at the store. Tilly Povey, famous for her whiplash tongue and her copious ironing, watched the boy’s decline with a heavy heart from her house across the street.
Jess has just waved goodbye to her darling son, off backpacking to Oz. She's left with two teenage daughters and husband Matt - all of whom find themselves regularly featured in her popular and lighthearted newspaper column in which she conveys to her readers an enviably cheery muddle of family life.Things become less rosy when Matt, after twenty years with the same firm, is made redundant. Only Jess sees the potential calamity in this.