It was meant to be a summer holiday like in the days when they were kids. The sisters Harriet, Alice and Fran and their brother Roland have planned to gather in the family’s old cottage in the countryside. Fran brings her two small children, Ivy and Arthur, keen on exploring the surroundings and sneaking into everybody’s secrets; Alice has invited her partner’s son Kasim, already a student; Roland brings his new wife Pilar and his daughter Molly who normally lives with her mother; just Harriet is on her own. While the teenagers start discovering love, eyed by the young ones, the grown-ups face the other end of their love lives. Failed relationships and difficult family affairs keep them from enjoying their stay which will come to an end, and also marking the final point in their summers at the beloved cottage.
Tessa Hadley creates a microcosm which could be everybody and everywhere. Those secrets, never told, hiding behind politeness, envy and disdain and yet, when needed the brothers and sisters are there nonetheless to support and help. She sketches the lost summers where you try to get back what you had as a child, although childhood itself had its own troubles, albeit sometimes hidden from the children or just not understood.
A perfect story for the end of summer, where things come to an end, days become shorter and it is time to think over where you are and where you want to go.