Jane is sixteen when she first becomes aware of Leonard Campbell. He is a tall, gentle man with full lips and no ring on his left hand. He is her teacher. As he begins to shower her with attention, giving her novels to read and discuss, Jane's interest grows and slowly she falls in love. They overcome obstacles in the form of school bullies and Jane's parents, and it is only once married, that Jane realises she might have settled down too early and given up too much of herself in the process. They have two children, Becca and Julia, and settle into suburban Surrey in the 1980s. But when Marion and Andrew, a couple whose passion frequently tips into violence, move in next door, Jane is forced to face up to feelings she didn't know she could have. And when Marion abandons her family to return home to Ireland, Jane steps in to help with the couple's two boys, setting in motion a series of events - all of which expose the push and pull within every family. As desire and loyalty are blurred, it becomes clear that nobody can escape the devastating impact of a family falling apart.