The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life

The story starts with 42-year-old Laura, married to Henry, mother of two children, getting a letter from Nick, the former love of her life. Even the handwriting on the envelope brings back the intensity of that first and greatest love affair, over twenty years ago. She never knew why he left her. The wounds have never healed. Now he’s back, and wants to meet her again – and she realises she doesn’t want to tell Henry.

Each decision she takes has a ripple effect on her husband, her children, and all those she comes into contact with. In short chapter after short chapter we follow the chain of human interactions, shifting each time to a new viewpoint, discovering that our characters know nothing of what’s going on inside each other. They misread each other, fail to notice the dramas being played out before them, absorbed as they are in their own intense inner lives. Over six short days in Sussex we watch a dozen lives collide and transform each other, without any of the protagonists realising the true impact of their words and actions.

These are ordinary middle-class people, getting on with unremarkable lives. But for each one their life is a passionate drama in which they take the lead part. Running through each story is the question: how happy can I expect to be? Is what I’ve got enough? Am I leading the life I meant to live?