The three sisters haven’t been together for six years when they all gather at Calder Lodge in the wake of their stepmother’s death. They quickly settle into the old sibling patterns: Vanessa, the eldest, clucks round like a mother hen; rebel Jamie, just back from America, is the outspoken one whose straight-talking isn’t always to her sisters’ taste; and Phil, the youngest, in the shadow of the other two, is willing to follow where they lead.
But the familiar roles are deceptive. Vanessa’s apparently happy marriage conceals domestic abuse; Jamie’s successful career has ended in ruin and a broken heart; in fact it is Phil, always the low achiever, who has managed to make the most of her life. These secrets become apparent only after several months and the resolution of the various problems takes place against the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish Highlands.