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His wild years behind him, Alfred Ashby, a celebrated photographer now in his late fifties, has returned to where he was raised, the family farm in rural England. The old house in the valley, little changed by the years, provides him an agreeable darkroom, necessary solitude, and a link to a more tranquil past. His reverie is broken by a January visit from his headstrong older sister, Edith, a former MP and the survivor of two disastrous marriages. To her Alfred's bachelor life is undesirable, his work obsessive and disturbing. She has plans for Alfred, for the farm and for the future, plans she hopes will help the two of them mend their frayed relationship and forget their past sorrows, past mistakes. In the course of their long winter visit, this infinitely complicated brother and sister confront their deepest selves and retrace the tangled paths their lives have taken. Isabel Colegate has written a fierce, funny, unsentimental book about growing older, about grace and forgiveness, and about hope for a world we must too soon leave behind.