Molly is now in her eighties and she helps her grand-daughters Cara and Freya bring up their young children with unstinting care. Hers has been a life of unselfpitying service, from her working-class Dublin girlhood to her current status as the wealthy widow of a famous artist. But her own children, particularly her daughter Eileen, are her life's great failure: unhappy, self-indulgent women who resent the younger generation's apparent freedom from guilt and their unconventional family arrangements. This intricate web of female relationships comes under terrible strain when Molly, her health sapped by her constant efforts on behalf of others, decides to consult the family solicitor about changing her will. This is a novel of great tenderness in its depiction of the small pleasures of family life and ruthless in its portrayal of the dangerous power of money.