Bessie Bawtry was a gifted child who studied hard to escape from a dismal future in the South Yorkshire mining town of Breaseborough, and confused and confounded her parents in the process. Nearly a century later, Faro, her granddaughter, attends a lecture of genetic inheritance. She has returned to the depressed little town to find that all around her are families who have been there for as long as anyone can remember. Could it be that, despite the glamour and the influence of her father's wild, foreign blood, she hasn't really travelled any further than her small-town kin?
Margaret Drabble's new novel is a moving portrait of four generations of one family and an absorbing exploration of relationships - familial, historical and genetic.