The Shawcross family was a strange and unhappy one. Edward Shawcross absented himself as much as possible and kept a red-haired mistress in Tintern Avenue. Alice, his wife, sought solace in chocolate and continually carped at Connie, her beautiful daughter. And Connie and Gilbert, their children, formed an uneasy alliance in the face of their parents' antipathy.
Twenty years before, Edward Shawcross had been an impoverished millhand, born in a slum to feckless parents. Overnight his fortunes had changed. To everyone's surprise he had married the plain and awkward daughter of the wealthy Fishwick family. Almost at once the Fishwicks, owners of a lucrative mill and a grand house, went to live abroad leaving Edward in charge of all their business interests. No-one could understand why Edward had suddenly made this leap of fortune.
But as the new generation began to grow up, so the truth behind old scandals began to emerge. Then, after many years, the Fishwicks returned and violence swiftly followed. Before Connie and Gilbert could throw off the legacies of the past and build their own lives, there were to be many shocking revelations.