Edie Burchill loves her mother but has a somewhat distant relationship with her. They're too different. She's pursued her own life, and is now assistant chair at the tiny publishing house where she works.
It's so tiny that she and her boss are the only employees, now that the boss's partner and co-founder has died, but they have a well-earned reputation for producing quality books.
What Edie doesn't know is that her mother is more like her than she imagines, and there's a secret in her past that will mean more to Edie than she can imagine.
One day, Edie drives out to a meeting with a new client, and on the way back runs into heavy traffic, gets off the main road, and winds up taking a wrong turn that takes her to a little village which includes a castle--a strangely familiar castle. She's been there before, as a young child, with her mother. They stood outside the gates for a while, and then her mother, Meredith, says she's made a mistake, it's too late, hurries Edie away, and when Edie asks about it, insists it never happened.
It's the beginning of a journey of discovery, self-discovery and family history discovery. Her mother's secrets, and the secrets of the Blythe family. The last of the family are three sisters: Persephone (Percy), her twin sister Seraphina (Saffy), and their younger sister, Juniper. It's also the story of Thomas Cavill, who was first Meredith's teacher and then a soldier during the Second World War, who falls in love with Juniper, and then inexplicably disappears.
Throughout the novel is wound the story of Raymond Blythe and his most successful literary work, The True History of the Mud Man, a bestselling book that became a children's classic, a hit play, and a beloved favorite of Edie in her childhood--part of the reason, she feels, that she became an editor in a literary-oriented publishing firm.
The untangling of all these tangled threads is slow but compelling, with Edie, her mother Meredith, the Sisters Blythe, and even the "minor" characters all coming to matter deeply.
I bought this book.