The Alldens live in a ramshackle house in suburban Bath. Don and Emily have four children: confident
Liz, satirical Clive, shy Lotte, and Benjamin, the late arrival. Together they take the usual knocks, go to
work, go abroad, go to university, go to pieces. Don and Emily stick it out, their strong marriage tested
by experience and frustrated by love for Clive, the ardent boxing fan at odds with himself, their special
child. But then ordinary is special, too, as the Alldens will discover thirty years later when Emily falls ill and her children come home to say goodbye. They meet on the poor outskirts of the city in which they grew up, a place where strangers gather and Emily lingers, present but missing, at the still centre of a changing world.