When Laurie Davison discovers she has cancer, she finds herself led by her effusive New Age mother, at the Centre for Regenerative Therapy, previously an old country house called Compton Hall. Faced with her mortality, life has lost its promise and hope and Laurie is an un-willing patient. Abandoned by her lover, Sean, Laurie is lost and alone - with a bitter past and an uncertain future. A painting of two young women in Edwardian dress which hangs above the mantel in the counselling room begins to hold a strange fascination for Laurie and her highly charged emotions and hypnotherapy sessions enable a second story to emerge. This is the history of India Crompton-Leigh and her family, previous occupants of the Hall. Fiercely independent India has no thought for marriage or men, until Dr Luke Harte arrives in the village to treat a scarlet fever epidemic. Sean's reappearance and her fight against suffering and illness help Laurie to discover that the past and the present offer individuals the same challenges and dilemmas: how to live a good life in the shadow of death, and how to love wisely and well.