They were "the five families" - the pleasant hospitable Frosts, the brash and sexy Cleggs, flirtatious Jimmy Rose and aloof Star, maternal Vicky and reliable Gordon Ransome, Michael Wickham and his perfect wife Marcelle. Old friends, their lives are interwoven in a comfortable pattern of school runs and Sunday golf, barbecues and shared holidays.
Until Nina Cort returns to the cathedral city of her childhood. Rich, sophisticated and newly widowed, Nina is an exotic thread in the pattern, whose intrusion reveals a web of hidden flaws: a darker, more complex design of wants and desires beneath the bland surface.
In the course of a year from which none of them will emerge unscathed, when the threads between them stretch and break and rearrange the picture in subtly altered ways, the five families and Nina discover that you can never truly know the fabric of other people's marriages. Perhaps not even your own . . .