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It opens with a snapshot: Kath, at an unknown gathering, hands clasped with a man not her husband, both their backs to the camera. The photograph is in an envelope marked DON'T OPENDESTROY. But Kath's husband does not heed the warning. The mystery of the photograph, and of Kath herself and her recent death, propels him on a journey of discovery. The unfolding tale reveals a tight web of secretswithin marriages, between two sisters, and at the heart of an affair. The elfin Kath, with her mesmerizing looks and casual ways, moves like an insistent ghost through the thoughts and memories of everyone who knew her: Glyn, her husband, past his lusty, professorial prime; her remorselessly competent sister, Elaine, a doyenne garden designer married to ne'er-do-well Nick; and their daughter, Polly, and the tumultuous new era she inhabits.